Of all the beautiful churches, amazing monuments, and a vast number of museums spread out across Paris, there is one site that is truly the heart and soul of this city. Visited by over thirteen million people annually this Gothic masterpiece of French architecture has stood along the banks of the River Seine since its cornerstone was laid in 1163. The 70-meter-high cathedral was, for centuries, the tallest building in Paris. A masterpiece of French Gothic architecture, the Notre-Dame is one of the greatest monuments of the Middle Ages. If you are coming to Paris, you simply cannot leave until you have stood in the shadow of Notre Dame.
Notre Dame provides so many opportunities for the “perfect” shot. First of all, from the west, you can easily get an unobstructed view of the front of the beautiful cathedral. The setting sun bathes the facade in a golden glow in the late afternoon, it’s recommended to walk next to the Seine and combine the covered walkway into the shot with the river. Another great suggestion is to get a shot of the facade from the Petite Pont. If the crowds aren’t too big, the Parvis Notre Dame – Place Jean-Paul II will give a beautiful unobscured view.
If it’s the flying buttresses that you have in mind for the perfect shot, it’s suggested to shoot the cathedral from the east. You’re able to get the large stained glass windows, especially if you come in the morning and get the golden morning light! It’s equally impressive with the light at dusk, just after they’ve turned on the floodlights, yet before the sky has turned completely black.
Unfortunately, as I’m sure you’re aware of, in April of 2019 the roof of the Notre-Dame caught fire while undergoing renovation and restoration. Burning for around 15 hours, the cathedral sustained serious damage, including the destruction of the timber spire over the crossing and most of the lead-covered wooden roof above the stone vaulted ceiling. Although this terrible accident happened, this has resulted in the Notre-Dame Cathedral becoming more popular than ever. Currently, tours to the inside of Notre-Dame are halted, however, you can still see the outside of the Notre-Dame Cathedral from the street.
Under normal circumstances, entry into the cathedral is free, however, there is a fee to climb the towers (8.50 EUR). You can get around this fee by getting a Paris Museum Pass before you go, passes are available for 2, 4, or 6 consecutive days and include 60 museums and monuments in Paris, but be advised that it does not include the “Skip the line” feature. This is perhaps the best view in all of Paris and one can clearly see the Pantheon, the towers of Saint-Sulpice, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and of course Sacre-Coeur to the north. You also get a wonderful view of the Cathedrals Spire (which was unfortunately damaged by the fire), the twelve Apostles, and an up-close look at many of the gargoyles and chimera statues.
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