Notre Dame Cathedral: Complete Visitor Information

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••• Notre Dame is beautiful at dusk. Joe Daniel Price/Moment/Getty Images

Arguably the most stunning gothic cathedral in the world, Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral is undoubtedly the most famous. Conceived in the 12th century and completed in the 14th, the now-iconic cathedral was the very heartbeat of medieval Paris. After a period of neglect, it recaptured the popular imagination when 19th-century writer Victor Hugo immortalized it in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.

Notre Dame’s dramatic towers, spire, stained glass and statuary are nearly guaranteed to take your breath away.

Dig deeper into the history of the fascinating monument by visiting the below-ground archaeological crypt. Climbing the North tower to get a gargoyle’s perspective of Paris is a must, too.

Location and Contact Info:

The cathedral is centrally located on the Ile de la Cité, the area of Paris that divides the city's right and left banks. The Ile de la Cite is surrounded by the Seine River.

Address: Place du parvis de Notre Dame, 4th arrondissement
Metro: Cité or Saint-Michel (Line 4)
RER: Saint-Michel (Line C)
Bus: Lines 21, 38, 47, or 85
Phone: +33 (0)142 345 610
Visit the official website (in English]

Nearby Areas and Attractions:

Cathedral Opening Hours:

The main hall of the cathedral is open daily from 6:45 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. (visitors' circulation is partially interrupted during masses and services.

The archaeological crypt is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and closed on Mondays. 

The Towers are open during the following days and times:

  • July-August: 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; weekends 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • April-June and September: 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • October-March: 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Towers closed January 1st, May 1st, and Dec. 25th.

Admission Prices:

  • Cathedral main hall: free
  • Towers: 7.50 Euros (approx. $9.70). Reductions possible for children and groups
  • Archaeological crypt: 3.30 Euros (approx. $4.30). Free for children under 14. In addition, The Paris Museum Pass includes entry to the crypt. (Buy direct)​

When's the Best Times to Visit?

I generally recommend visiting Notre Dame in low season (generally October-March): you'll have a better chance of avoiding massive crowds and long lines. In addition, weekday mornings and evenings are generally much quieter than afternoons and weekends. Remember, though, that evening visits to the cathedral will not be optimal for viewing Notre Dame's beautiful stained glass.

Finally, visiting at sunset will afford awe-inspiring views of the cathedral's stained glass, notably the three rose windows.

Read related: 10 Most Beautiful Spots for Sunsets in Paris

Cathedral Tours:

Free guided tours of the cathedral's exterior and main hall are available in English upon request. Call the information desk for more details: +33(0) 142 345 610. Free downloadable audio tours of the cathedral are a nice alternative. 

Tours of the cathedral towers begin at the foot of the North Tower and involves climbing a total of 402 steps.

Observation area for the cathedral's 13-ton bell in the South Tower. 20 visitors are admitted to the towers every 10 minutes, and last admission is at 6:45 p.m.

Giftshop and Museum:

The giftshop is located in the cathedral's main hall, and sells Notre-Dame-themed jewelry, t-shirts, and other gifts.

The Notre Dame Museum is located at 10, rue du Cloitre-Notre-Dame (around the corner from the cathedral) and traces Notre Dame's origins and history.

Museum opening hours: Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed bank holidays.

Accessibility:

Notre Dame is accessible for visitors with limited mobility. Call the information desk for more details.

Key Historical Facts and Dates:

  • A Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter and two early medieval churches once stood on Notre Dame's foundations.
  • Construction of the cathedral began in 1163. Hundreds of laborers and artisans toiled for nearly 200 years to complete the masterpiece of early gothic architecture.
  • Notre Dame was pillaged and seriously damaged during the French Revolution of the late 18th century. 19th century restorations led by Viollet-le-Duc replicated much of the damaged stain glass, statuary, and the cathedral's distinctive spire.
  • During the French Revolution, Notre Dame was temporarily converted to a "Temple of Reason".

Read related: What To See in Paris If You Have Only 1 Day

Visit Highlights: What Details Should You Look Out For?

Notre Dame is full of eye-catching, sumptuous details, but even more are subtle and go unnoticed. Consult our guide to highlights at Notre Dame to help you make the most of your visit to the cathedral.

Interested in digging deeper into the history of this remarkable site? Also think about visiting the archaeological crypt at Notre Dame for a fascinating glimpse into the city's Gallo-Roman foundations and its subsequent developments.