No trip to Paris would ever be complete without a visit to the beloved Cathédrale de Notre-Dame.  Built between 1163 and 1345 the Notre Dame has withstood centuries of history and is one of the most iconic cathedrals in the world. Not only is the Notre Dame a pure masterpiece of French Gothic architecture, it has also remained the city’s heart and soul for centuries of dynamic struggle and change.

The cathedral’s popularity as a top tourist site is well known. There is always bound to be a huge mass of people gathering around the inside and outside of the Notre Dame admiring her beauty.  However, the real line for the cathedral is around the lefthand side where you can pay to visit the towers of the Notre Dame.

In the bone-chillling wind of an unseasonably cool late April day, my sister and me waited well over an hour to gain access to the harrowing stairs leading up to the top of the towers. At times the line was barely moving and we had no idea how long it would take. Yet, we remained in line resolved to get to the top. What I’ve learned in all my years of travel is that patience pays off and often rewards.

The long lines were well worth the wait. Climbing 387 narrow stone steps brings you to the west facade where you will find perhaps the most spectacular views of Paris in the entire city. It is also the best way to get up close and personal with the infamous, grotesque gargoylyes of the Notre Dame.

View of Paris from Notre Dame View of Paris from Notre Dame View of Paris from Notre Dame

Perched high above the Parisian sky with the best view in the city are the world famous gargoyles. Up close the gargoyles are rather disturbing looking with frightening, grotesque faces that are believed by some to be the protectors of the city and ward off evil.  However, an interesting tidbit is that the gargoyles have an architectural purpose. They are each designed with a spout that acts like a gutter protecting the masonry walls of the church from rainwater and heavy downpours.

A walk around the top of the Notre Dame is enough to make anyone with a fear of heights get a little dizzy however it is worth the price of admission and uneasiness to get some of the most sought after shots of the City of Light. Here are a few of my favorites.

The Gargoyles of Notre Dame The Gargoyles of Notre Dame The Gargoyles of Notre Dame The Gargoyles of Notre Dame The Gargoyles of Notre Dame The Gargoyles of Notre Dame The Gargoyles of Notre Dame The Gargoyles of Notre Dame thirdeyemom The Gargoyles of Notre Dame The Gargoyles of Notre Dame The Gargoyles of Notre Dame The Gargoyles of Notre Dame The Gargoyles of Notre Dame P1010383-1 P1010385-1 The Gargoyles of Notre Dame P1010395-1

If you go:

The Notre Dame Cathedral is located in the 4th arrondissement on Île de la Cité. There is free admission to the cathedral and it costs 8,5 E for the towers. Cathedral is open daily yet the towers are only open April -September. Check webiste for details. Metro: Station Cité or Saint-Michel


    1. Thanks so much! I thought they turned out well, especially since I’m really an amateur. I hope to someday take some photography classes and really learn how to shot!

  1. I was so uncomfortable climbing the spiral staircase at the Arc de Triomphe but the views of Paris from climbing to the top of Norte Dame would be worth it. Love your incredible photos.

    1. Thank you! Yes it does have the tendency to make you rather dizzy and my mom wouldn’t go as she gets vertigo! But the views on top were amazing!

  2. Last year we stood in line for over an hour in the cold, rain, and wind. The better half was not happy, but the view even on a cloudy day is wonderful.

  3. Your photos are absolutely WOW, NIcole. Marvelous shots of the city and the cathedral. The gargoyles are really quite scary up close. Thanks for sharing. I need to go back there one day and take some real photos. 😀

  4. Spend most of my life in Paris and I’ve never seen the city like this… Now that I’m on my way to go back after 9 years in Dallas I know I’m gonna to explore it with a fresh eye. Thanks, you actually cheer me up.

  5. Great photos 🙂 We’ll be in Paris in just over a week on our mother/daughter trip to Europe, and I might have to add this to my plans! My mom probably won’t make the trek, as she’s horribly afraid of heights, but holy cow what views! And it looks fun to see the gargoyles up close, just perched there for eternity.

    1. Thanks! Have a wonderful time! My mom hung out in the cafe right next to the Notre Dame while my sister and I did the hike up. Your mom can probably do that. Go early as the line is bound to be long. Also, if you haven’t check out my post on Montmartre and be sure to visit St. Germain. Have a wonderful time and let me know if you post on it as I’d love to read it! 🙂

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