The Gargoyles of Notre Dame

sher she goes ile de la cite french gothic architecture


Notre Dame Gargoyles

The Catholic cathedral Notre Dame stands imposingly on the eastern half of  Île de la Cité.

About as iconic as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame de Paris is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and well worth a visit. The church interior is massive and typically clogged with church goers and tourists alike.




If you’ve got a head for small spaces and an appetite for stunning city views, head outside the church to the left side and join the line for a walk up to Notre Dame’s towers for an intimate walk with the gargoyles and chimera guarding the rooftop.

A quick word of caution: the climb is long and claustrophobic.




There are also no elevators.

387 steps doesn’t sound like a lot, but the ascension is by way of a narrow circular staircase, with small steps with all foot traffic moving in the same direction (aka there’s no room to change your mind midway).




Once you reach the first rooftop, say hello to the numerous gargoyles fiercely guarding their water spouts and take a look out over a fantastic aerial scene of Paris.

If you want to get even higher, you can follow the path up to the highest towers, or wait for the stairs to open up for the next group descent. Happy Climbing!




For more sights to visit while you’re in Paris, check out my Mini Guide to Paris and make sure to pick up the Paris Pass before you go in order to get free admission (to Notre Dame but also all the other major museums and metro)





Visiting Normandy – Travel Checklist

We took a red eye to Paris from JFK, then sailed on the Seine to Rouen on a river cruise. You can check for flight deals here and set an alert for your dates.

It’s also easy to take the train from Paris to cities throughout Normandy. Check my post here for more logistical information on taking the train in France and how not to buy tickets.

In Normandy, there’s so much to see over a large area that I’d recommend basing yourself in a city for a couple nights to take day trips, then moving to another city. For the D Day beaches, Bayeux and Caen are both popular bases. Check here for deals on Normandy hotels.

Lastly, be sure to visit Paris with travel insurance. Whether you get injured and need to be hospitalized, your phone gets stolen, or a flight delay leaves you with nothing but the clothes on your back, travel insurance will help when you need it most.

During our recent trip, riots in Paris shut down the city center and forced a closure of all the main sights (the Louvre, Versailles, etc). Get a quote for your trip here.


 You Might Also Enjoy: 


Normandy Vacation Planning

How to Get from Paris to Normandy

Cruising on the Seine River from Paris to Rouen

The Most Beautiful Places in Normandy

21 of the Best Things to Do in Normandy


Normandy Towns

Quick Guide to Rouen, Normandy's Capital

Paris to Normandy Day Trips: Vernon & Auvers-sur-Oise

Visiting Giverny & Monet's House

Where to Stay in Giverny


WWII Memorials

How to See Normandy Beach & D-Day Sites

Visiting the Normandy Cemetery in Remembrance of D-Day


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  1. March 21, 2014 / 3:48 pm

    These photos are amazing! I’m a bit claustrophobic, but I think I’d brave the narrow climb for that view!

    • Sher
      March 21, 2014 / 7:46 pm

      haha, it definitely felt a little squeezed up at the top.

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