see + do
Tel: 33 1 42 34 56 10
Tel: 33 1 53 10 07 02 (towers)
Concierge.com's insider take:
Faith may have helped Bishop Maurice de Sully get Notre-Dame underway in 1160, but ceaseless toil is what finished the job by the end of the century. Despite severe damage during the Revolution of 1789 and clumsy 19th-century restorations and additions (including the faux-medieval spire, much of the statuary, and the stained glass), this great Gothic masterpiece ranks among the most moving and important Christian sites in the world. After a ten-year, largely successful restoration (finished in 2002), the blond-stone facade is again free of grime. In high season, you'll have plenty of time to admire the exterior as you wait to get in. And wait again, if you want to gaze down on Paris with a 230-foot-high gargoyle's-eye view: The 400-step climb up the north tower, passing the cathedral's giant bells and Gallery of Chimeras, is worth the effort—and the long lines. Your best chance to beat the queue is to avoid Sundays and holidays, and arrive before opening hours or at the end of the day. On weekends in July and August, the towers are open until 11 p.m., so do the interior first then get in line for the climb. Notre-Dame's buttressed back is best seen from the adjoining Pont de l'Archevêché or the Quai d'Orléans midstream on the Île Saint Louis.
April 1 through June 30: 9:30 am to 7:30 pm.
July 1 through August 31: 9 am to 7:30 pm (11 pm Saturdays and Sundays)
Sept. 1 through Sept. 30: 9:30 am to 7:30 pm.
October 1 through March 31: 10 am to 5:30 pm.