There is more to Notre Dame Paris than just the stained glass and rose windows.
If you are visiting the Cathedral, you must climb the tower and enjoy fantastic views of the city.
In this article, we explain everything you need to know before you decide to climb the tower at Notre Dame Paris.
Is climbing the Notre Dame tower worth it?
The Notre Dame Tower stands in the centre of Paris – at the official “zero” point.
This position and the Cathedral’s height helps you see fantastic views of Paris.
The building’s roof has the most magnificent gargoyles and chimaeras disguised as drains and pipes.
Once you are up on the Tower, you can’t miss these decorations, which also make for great photographs. Book your Tower tickets now
Both reasons make your climb up the Notre Dame Tower completely worthwhile.
Waiting time at Notre Dame Tower
If you want to go up the Cathedral, you must wait in the queue. This waiting period can even go up to 90 minutes.
The long waiting time is due to two reasons:
1. Every 10 minutes only 20 people can go up the stairs
2. There are a lot of visitors waiting to see the view from the top
But don’t worry. For there is a way, you can avoid waiting in this long line – by downloading the JeFile app (also known as Duck The Line).
How to Skip the line at the tower
It is possible to avoid standing in the line to go up the Towers.
Download the JeFile app and reserve your place in Notre Dame Tower’s line in advance.
The JeFile app is also known as Duck The Line app.
How Duck The Line app works
Duck The Line app a.k.a. JeFile app will work only when you are near Notre Dame Paris.
Once at the Cathedral, open the app and select a preferred time slot.
Once you have selected the slot, you are free to do whatever you want – an excellent option is to explore the rest of the Cathedral.
When it is your time to climb the Tower, find your way to the side entrance of the Tower and show the app to the attendant.
Once they confirm, you will be let in.
After starting your climb, you’ll notice, stairs splitting into two.
If you haven’t bought your Tower tickets yet, go left to buy them.
If you already have the tickets, or Paris Museum Pass continue the climb by going left.
Note: If you want a much simpler solution to skip the long lines at Notre Dame Tower, check out this guided tour of Notre Dame with Tower access
Climbing Notre Dame towers
Your journey starts at the doorway in the North tower, to the left and around the corner from the Notre Dame’s main entrance.
You will make your way up the stone staircase.
Almost halfway through the 387 steps, you’ll reach the gift and book shop in the high-ceiling stone chamber of the tower.
Have a look at the plaque near the steps leading to Esmeralda’s Cell, which includes an excerpt from the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
With a guard opening the upper staircase, resume your climb to the open gallery of the North tower with a narrow staircase leading up to the South Tower.
Glance the fascinating chimaera and gargoyles before visiting the belfry and later viewing the 13 ton Emmanuel Bell in the South Tower.
You can climb up the narrow stairway to the top of the South Tower.
How long does climbing the tower take?
Climbing up the 387 stone stairs is a hectic task though the view is as rewarding as the climb is exhausting.
Waiting in the line, climbing the tower at Notre Dame and then getting back can take you around two hours.
If you are still undecided, no problem.
Just buy the basic priority entrance ticket and once you are done exploring the Cathedral you can decide the next course of action (yes, you can buy Tower tickets at the attraction).
Notre Dame Towers FAQs
Visitors planning to go up the Towers do have a lot of questions.
Entry to the Cathedral starts at 8 am and to the Towers at 10 am.
The queue to get into the Cathedral starts to swell up by 9 am Hence, its best to explore the Cathedral first.
If you get in early, you can avoid the large tourist groups who start arriving by 10 am.
Notre Dame has two entrances.
To explore the Cathedral, enter through the front door.
To find your way up the Tower, use the doorway in the North Tower, to the left and around the corner from the Cathedral’s main entrance.
You should visit post-lunch for shorter lines.
However, with the app mentioned above, you don’t have to worry about the lines much.
You can mark your spot in the queue and roam around till it is your turn to go up.
You can buy last minute tickets to go up the Tower but, only during the off-season.
However, during peak seasons, same day tickets get sold out very quickly.
Hence, you should book in advance! Book Now
Entrance to the Notre Dame tower is free!
But, to skip the notoriously long lines, you can buythe priority entrance ticket.
As the second step, you will also require a ticket to climb the tower.
You can get these Tower tickets in two ways:
1. Book a guided tour which includes a tower visit well in advance to avoid surprises later.
2. Another option is to buy a regular Notre Dame entrance ticket and get in the line to go up the Tower.
And then, just before you start your Tower climb, you will be able to buy the ticket.
Unfortunately, you cannot.
The app only holds your place in the queue (by reserving a time slot).
With this app, you can reserve spots for up to 8 people in your group.
Yes, you can wait in the queue and stay there forever.
The way Notre Dame manages the queues has changed in recent years.
The best way out is to download Duck The Line app, or use the Kiosk on the Northern side of the Cathedral (starts at 9 am) to reserve your time to go up the Tower.
Only 20 visitors are allowed every 10 minutes with preference to people with a reserved time slot.
If you have completed your homework, then buy regular priority entrance ticketto avoid the queue is enough.
However, if you love history, architecture and monuments, book a guided tour of Notre Dame.
A local expert can surprise you with stories and anecdotes which are difficult to find online.
Unfortunately, you cannot skip the line because of the first come, first served system.
With the Paris Museum Pass you only get free access to the Tower but no skip the line facility.
Even with the Duck The Line app, you must reserve your place well in advance.
If you don’t want the hassle of reserving the place, go ahead and book the guided tour, where your guide will handle everything for you.
When you climb down the Notre Dame tower, you exit onto the street.
To go back to the Cathedral, you must wait again in the queue.
To avoid this waiting, visitors prefer to explore the Cathedral first and then go up the Tower.
Yes, kids older than six years can quickly climb the 387 steps as long as its early in the day.
It’s essential that you haven’t spent a lot of time waiting in the queue, tiring the kids.
To avoid this waiting, visitors with kids and elderly prefer ‘priority entrance’.
There are a total of 387 steps to the top with very few places to stop and rest.
It becomes a bit cramped for those who want to rest because the visitors tend to rush to the top and the stairs narrow down as you climb up.
Hence, you should consider your mental and physical strength before starting the climb.
Nevertheless, the panoramic view from the top is worth all the struggle.
Popular attractions in Paris
She believes that the world is full of must-see places and must-do adventures, and has a never-ending list of places she wants to visit. Driven by a passion for the outdoors, she connects better with nature, and wildlife more than Museums and monuments. Favorite Cities: Cape Town, Kathmandu, Hanoi, Reykjavik, Vienna