Notre-Dame Cathedral Towers (Tours de la Cathédrale Notre-Dame)
The cornerstone of Paris's Notre-Dame Cathedral was laid in 1163, but it wasn't until almost one hundred years later that the towers were built. As you climb the towers, you’ll be able to admire the Salle Haute, which has a ribbed, vaulted ceiling; the Galerie des Chimères, where you can see the cathedral’s famous gargoyles up close; and the bells in the belfry, including the famous 13-ton great bell known as Emmanuel.
You can admire the church and climb to the top of the towers on your own, take the church’s audio tour (which is available in several different languages), or see the cathedral on a guided tour of the city. Paris’ hop-on hop-off buses also stop here.
Things to Know Before You Go
You should be reasonably physically fit and comfortable with heights to climb to the top of the towers.
The towers are not wheelchair-accessible.
There are no public restrooms in the monument, but there are a variety of businesses and eateries in the surrounding area.
How to Get There
Notre-Dame Cathedral is located on the Île de la Cité, one of two islands in the middle of the Seine. Its central location makes the church easy to reach via several Métro lines, including the 4 (from the Saint-Michel station), the 1 and the 11 (from the Hôtel de Ville station), and the 10 (from the Maubert–Mutualité station).
When to Get There
Notre Dame Cathedral is open every day; exact hours vary by day and by season. The hours for the towers also vary; check the schedule before visiting. On weekend evenings in the summer, you can climb the towers until late at night and see the city’s lights.
Meet the Gargoyles
When you reach the top of the towers, you’ll see the gigantic gargoyles that sit on the upper parts of the cathedral. The fantastical beasts—some half-human with serpent tails, eagle beaks and lion paws—are not just decorative, they’re also useful: The ones that jut out horizontally are built for water drainage and elegantly guide the flow of rainwater out of their mouths, away from the sides of the building.
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