The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

With heavy hearts we revisit this look at Notre Dame from a few years ago. The good news is that at least the main stone structure was saved, making rebuilding possible. It will take years, and may never be the same, so we are so happy to have seen it and share it.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France -

Popping out of the Metro in Paris, we found crowded, narrow streets — alive and vibrant — with bars and cafes, and somehow it seemed perfect.

We wandered aimlessly, as curious observers, while bells rang out periodically.

Generally moving in the direction of the peals, eventually we came upon the Square René Viviani and discovered, tucked away and supported by a couple of concrete braces, the oldest tree in Paris.

Square René Viviani in Paris, France

The oldest tree in Paris

The venerable locust tree has been hanging in there since 1601, and still blooms every spring, even after taking a shot from a shell in World War I.

The square is also home to some old stones from Notre Dame Cathedral, which stands just across a small bridge.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

As we crossed the span, the massive church loomed before us.

In the dimming daylight we observed the structure from every possible angle, most likely with our mouths hanging open much of the time.

While the cathedral might be best known to us Americans for the bells we’d been hearing — and the odd little man who rang them — the gargoyles, rose window, and flying buttresses are what most caught our attention. Zéro des Routes de France
Point Zéro des Routes de France sits in front of the cathedral and is the official center of the city.

Backside of Notre Dame in Paris, France

Built over the course of nearly two-hundred years, beginning in 1163, Notre-Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to incorporate the flying buttress as reinforcements for the walls.

Although they were not part of the original design, its size required the additional support.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris - at night!

As night fell we were thrilled by the various views we encountered, especially lit against the darkened sky.

Perhaps a soul with an unfortunate deformity was hiding in the tower under cover of darkness.

As the bells rang out once more, we knew we had to return the next morning for another look… and an assessment of the inside.

The devil is in the detail of the facade of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France
The devil’s in the detail

Close up detail of the devil on the facade of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

The morning light allowed us a better assessment of the facade, and the restoration that took place after most of the statues were beheaded during the revolution.

Moving our gaze up toward the spire, we may have hoped to spot Quasimodo climbing along the rooftop, but instead found the twelve apostles, captured in surprisingly whimsical poses. These were also added during reconstruction.

Gargoyles and statues on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Close up of scary images on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

Outside of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Walking inside, we experienced the temporary blindness that comes from going directly out of daylight into relative darkness.

But our eyes soon enough adjusted and the sun streaming through the stained glass windows filled the otherwise dimly lit sanctuary with muted colors.

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Rose window in Notre Dame Catherdal in Paris

The glow seemed to be the perfect lighting for such a refuge from the outside world, so we settled into seats to soak it all in for a while. That is our favorite way to absorb overwhelming spaces such as this, by sitting still we are able to observe and process the scope of the building.

Stained glass windows in Notre Dame Catherdal, Paris, France

A tomb in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

Doubting Thomas inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

Once we were accustomed to both the light and space, we took a lap around the entire interior.

Not to take anything away from the classic cathedral, but we’d have to say we were more impressed with the exterior.

There is no doubt plenty to see inside, but for outstanding artwork we decided we would do better a few blocks away at the Louvre.

David & Veronica,

Thanks to Paris je t’aime for this adventure that made us exclaim Ooh la la! As always, all opinions are our own.

See where we stayed in Paris
Want to see our full collection of odd art at the Louvre?
Head deep inside the Catacombes de Paris
Take a peek inside the Arc de Triomphe
See more of our antics at the Eiffel Tower
Follow us to Versailles – there’s so much over-the-top royal stuff to share!
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Check out all of our adventures in France!

YOUR TURN: Is Paris at the top of your must-see list? Or have you already checked it off? What would be YOUR first stop in Paris?

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3 thoughts on “The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France”

  1. In surfing coverage of this event as it was happening early on, Fox news had picked up a feed from the French news network FRANCE 24, and the reporter was Charli James. Good for her. I always look forward to seeing her again on the air.
    Doug J.

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