The Notre-Dame cathedral is a fantastic piece of French history and is highly recommended for those seeing Paris for the first time. To fully enjoy the architecture, history, and wonders of this French Gothic masterpiece it’s important to note a few things that could put a slight damper on an otherwise memorable experience.
Cost of Admission
Getting rid of the confusion, the cost to enter Notre-Dame is absolutely free. Now if you want to visit the crypt or climb the towers (highly recommended) it’s going to cost extra. The crypts will cost €6 and the towers will cost €8.50.
The Paris Museum Pass does include access to the towers.
There are a number of group and private tours that are of varying prices and features. A real tour should include something extra such as a guide who explains the history of the building or enables you to access other nearby attractions. Anybody claiming you need to buy a tour package to access Notre-Dame is either misinformed or trying to line their pockets.
There is no dress code for entering Notre-Dame. Anyone who’s been to Italy will be surprised to hear this, but you will not be barred entrance from the cathedral if your skirt is too short or you top is very revealing.
Having said that I strongly recommend putting something a little more modest on. The Notre-Dame is a religious building that is still utilized to this day by devout Christians seeking God and spirituality in their lives. It means a lot to the locals when tourists recognize and respect this by putting something a little less revealing on when visiting their place of worship.
If you opt for access to the towers (which you really should) then you should be prepared for climbing 422 steps. You’re going to climb one tower, walk the length of the building and go down the other tower.
Wear sensible clothing, put on a good pair of shoes, have water on hand and don’t be ashamed to take your time and as many breaks as you need. The stairs were built back in the 1200’s so they’re narrow and steep. To my knowledge there is no convenient way down once you get to the top, so you will be expected to take the other set of stairs.
If you have time before your trip spend a couple of weeks taking walks or climbing stairs to prepare. You don’t need to be marathon ready, but building up some leg muscle, endurance, and shedding a few pounds can make the difference between enjoying a beautiful vista a little out of breath or slumped against a wall gasping for air halfway up.
The Notre-Dame cathedral is a gorgeous piece of architecture and can be a great experience. Keep the above in mind and you’ll have little to worry about when visiting this historic building.
Author: Benjamin Baker
After serving abroad in a religious capacity for two years Ben has felt the pull to travel and explore ever since. This desire was further fueled by his wife Maddie and the two have traveled to many places over the last few years. Ben’s hope is that by sharing his knowledge and experiences obtained while traveling that others can improve their lives and the lives of others through travel. Check out additional articles written by Benjamin.