Things to do around the Notre Dame of Paris
There are many things to do around the Notre Dame of Paris. As a Parisian I’m really proud of this cathedral! It’s the most important public landmark in Paris with over 13 million visitors each year! But most of them limit their visit at the facade. To make the most of this area consider joining our Notre Dame walking tour. But today, I’m sharing with you some tips for you to fully enjoy the cathedral and for you not to miss the most important details and beauties of the Notre Dame Cathedral! Read on to find out things to do around the Notre Dame of Paris.
The fire that happened on April 15, 2019 impacted not only Notre Dame de Paris but also the entire Ile de la Cité. You can learn more at the end of the article and here.
Admire the impressive details of the Cathedral frontage
First step, you need to have a look at the Cathedral frontage, because there are so many details that are supposed to represent parts of the Bible! All the details were impressively done. The construction started during the 12th century. Sometimes I wonder if men would be able to do such constructions nowadays again.
The main doorway in the centre represents the Last Judgment. The Elected people are found on the right side of the sculpture heading to the “promised paradise“. Jesus is shown has a Lord on his throne, ready to save the souls of humanity.
Go inside the Cathedral
Don’t hesitate to enter the cathedral even if, at first glance, the queue is huge. It won’t actually take long, because the entrance is free and open every day of the year between 10 am and 6.30 pm. My favourite part of the inside are the stained-glasses! After your first steps inside, turn around and you will see the rose window.
Built in 1220, the different parts of the rose window represent the opposition between sins and virtues, with the Virgin-Mary at the center carrying the God-child. Nevertheless, the most beautiful rose is the South one, in the right part of the nave. You can’t miss it, it’s 10 meters tall showing scenes of the New Testament.
You can also access the Treasury of Notre Dame where old and historical relics are displayed, such as a piece of the Christ’s spine crown. It was acquired by Saint Louis during the Crusades of the 13th century!
Visit the top of the Cathedral
I really advise you also to go at the top of the towers. You have to go 30 min before the opening at 10 am, if you don’t want to queue for ages! The overview is definitely worth the 422 steps to climb. And at the top, you can observe closely the gargoyles. Some of them are really funny! Take the time to find an elephant or an eagle.
The top of the Notre Dame Cathedral will offer you an incredible 360° view of the City of Lights: the Eiffel Tower, the Latin quarter, Châtelet, Hotel de Ville, the Seine river, as well as the gardens of the cathedral. Fron the top of the Cathedral, you can have a beautiful view over all the most important landmarks of Paris (more panoramic views of Paris)!
Enjoy the area surrounding the Cathedral
Another recommendation of things to do around the Notre Dame of Paris is for you is to stroll all around the monument. There are many things to do around the Notre Dame of Paris itself. When you are facing the frontage, go on the right to walk in the Jean XXIII garden. You will admire the flying buttresses. I also really like to come to this side of Paris at night. The illumination was really improved and allows you to enjoy the splendor of a building 9 centuries old (learn more about our Night Walking Tour).
In the area around the Notre Dame, you also have many small places nice to visit, and mostly unknown from the tourists. At Rue Chanoinnesse, there is one of the oldest restaurants established in 1594 named “Au Vieux Paris“. Located also in an old building on a corner, I recommend you “La Reserve de Quasimodo“. At Rue de la Colombe, you can find an excellent wine merchant, that also proposes french cuisine freshly made and not really expensive (More restaurants near Notre Dame)!
During your visit in the Island area, you wouldn’t want to miss the traditional ice-creams of Saint Louis’s Island: at Berthillon, a must-do during your stay. It’s the best ice-cream shop in all of Paris, and maybe in the world!
There is another unavoidable place that I will warmly recommend: the Shakespeare and Company. It is a charming bookstore with its frontage looking like in the old times as if the modernity had spared this establishment. This place is an institution for books lovers! The shelves are full of books and cover the walls until the ceiling. Specialised in British literature, you will also find second-hand books, a wide choice for every budget.
If you go a little further from the Notre Dame Cathedral, you will reach the Saint Michel fountain. It’s a huge fountain founded by the architect of Paris, Haussmann. You can see a representation of Good fighting Evil: the archangel Michael is fighting the Devil in an arc of triumph circled by chimeras. After looking at the Saint Michel fountain, you might want to visit the Latin Quarter! You will love the atmosphere of this area!
The Fire of Notre DameAs we all know, a spectacular fire that destroyed a large part of Notre Dame happened on April 15, 2019. The fire caused serious damage but the building is saved.
What was saved?
- The Structure
- The rose windows
- The “treasure” of the church
- The Stone statues
- The Rooster that sat atop Notre-Dame
- The 3-meter-tall copper statues of the 12 apostles.
You now know many things to do around the Notre Dame of Paris! Nonetheless, there are plenty more things to do in this area! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further information. You can also join our Notre Dame tour to learn all about the Cathedral and the area it stands in. This Notre Dame Paris Tour runs every day, rain or shine. We will also be glad to share more about the many things there are to do near the Island.
See you soon in Paris!