I have been asked many times. “What was your favorite site you visited in Paris?” The answer is a no brainer for me- Notre Dame. I just loved everything about it, the history, the exterior detail, the stained glass.. I could go on and on. However climbing the towers of Notre Dame were absolutely enchanting and something I will remember for the rest of my life.
After touring the Cathedral bright and early (recap coming soon), we headed straight to the left tower (when facing the entrance of the Cathedral). Here you will find a gate and door leading up the tower. The towers do not open until 10am but folks were lined up about 40 minutes prior to climb the 422 steps!
We arrived 20 minutes before opening time. It took about 45 minutes to get to the entrance. The guard seemed to only be letting in about 20 people in at a time. Something I was annoyed with at first but grateful for later.
The cost to enter is 10 euros, or price included if you have the Paris Museum Pass (but there is no skipping the line like at other sites with the Paris Museum Pass)
Finally it was our time to make the trek up the towers. We had a break about 1/4 of the way up at the cute gift shop (they had some good stuff!). The next break came 1/2 way up at the ‘gallery’ in between the two towers. Here we saw our first sights of the famous gargoyles. (gargoyles were originally made to act as spouts to remove water- much like modern day gutters) The gargoyles all looked different and seemed to gaze out over the city in awe. My Mom and I loved picking out our favorites. There did not seem to be any rhyme or reason to the placement of them, some were spread out on corners and in lines but some were located right next to each other and randomly spaced.
The views of the city were amazing and the best in all of Paris in my opinion. From the towers we could see all of Paris-the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and the Sacre Couer to name a few. We were so lucky to have a clear and sunny day during our visit which made for some pretty awesome photos.
Next it was off to the belfry, which is where the tower bells are housed. Here is where the Hunchback of Notre Dame legend really is believable! Little wooden doors! Either the tower keep accessing the bell tower were extremely short.. or they had a hunchback! We had fun climbing through the small door and view the beautiful old wooden beams and bell inside.
We continued the climb to the very tippy top. At this point the stairs were spiraled straight up. The wind was strong but the views continued to get better and better. At the top the pathways were pretty narrow and space was limited. I was happy that only a limited amount of people were allowed up at one time. We had plenty of time to take in the views and wander around freely. Making the long wait even more worth it.
The way down seemed never ending. After we arrived back to ground level we looked back up to the tower feeling accomplished and so fulfilled to have viewed the gargoyles up close and personal.
If you find yourself in Paris and have to pick and chose which monument to climb, I highly recommend Notre Dame! You may have to wait in line for a bit, but you will not be disappointed!
Looking for more on our trip to France? Check out our hotel here, our tour of the Louvre with Walks of France – here, some Post Cards from Paris- here and the beautiful Cathedral in Reims- here, some fine dining at Le Foch in Reims- here and a Visit to Paris’ Arc de Triomphe- here.