The Gothic towers of Notre Dame Cathedral appear to loom out of the river bank of The Seine, lying in the heart of Paris on the île de la Cité. We were continuing our flying visit of Paris and the day was getting on by the time we reached here to find an amazing celebration taking place.
Notre Dame, also known as “Our Lady of Paris” is one of the most important and popular monuments in Paris to visit. When we got to it, the place was already crowded and at first we just thought there was an enthusiastic throng of visitors but after we worked our way nearer to the doors, we discovered that some sort of veneration of a saint was occurring and the music and heartfelt passion was all around us.
It turned out that it was the veneration of St Bernadet as it was a very special anniversary. We were unable to get any closer as the crowds were packed around this roaming brass band that was following a procession holding a raised up platform with a statue, it was like a scene from a New Orleans funeral and sounded pretty much the same.
Whilst we were listening to this, it gave us the opportunity to look at the amazing facade of the building, the current structure is on the same site that was originally a Roman temple to Jupiter and after that a Frankish church built by Childebert I the king of the Franks in 528. Notre Dame is Catholic and obviously dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Architecturally it is an incredible building with its buttresses and the 228 foot towers, the doors or portals are highly decorated and also have different themes; The Last Judgment Portal; The Portal of St. Anne and The Portal of The Virgin. Each is worth a study in their own right.
The towers are really quite beautiful, thrusting up to the heavens, their construction started in 1163 with the laying of the foundation stone but got going in 1200 with their completion before the knave of the church was even finished. The towers were completely finished in 1245 after the stunning rose window. A good time to see the towers would be in the early evening as the towers face west and the golden fading sunlight is fantastic for photos! We didn’t get the chance to go in as this ceremony was going on but if you do get to look at the cathedral then looking at the rose window is worth the crowds, I saw it back in the eighties and have never forgotten it.
In less crowded times you could quietly sit on the grass in front of the cathedral reading and enjoying a bit “joie de vivre”. Beside the Cathedral there is also the opportunity to walk along The Seine and the famous Jardin de Tuileries, we didn’t manage to get to the gardens as time was running short and we had the Eiffel Tower to visit at dusk.
The Cathedral itself is free to go in but the tower and treasury are not. I think it was about €8 adults and free for children under 18.
The nearest Metro across The Seine is Cité or St-Michel but we took the RER St-Michel to the Eiffel Tower, the girls were in awe as it was a double decker! And it looked like we were traveling along under the level of the Seine! Watching the towers disappear was sad as we knew the day was coming to an end.
6 place du Parvis Notre-Dame, Île de la Cité, 4e, Paris, France