Notre Dame de Paris or Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the favorite tourist destinations for both Catholic and non-Catholic tourists.
Tourists admire its stained glass, the towers, rose windows, steeple, and gargoyles.
In this article, we explain everything you need to know before you visit Notre Dame in Paris.
Where is Notre Dame in Paris?
Notre Dame Cathedral is located on the île de la Cité in the heart of the city.
It’s one of the two remaining natural islands in river Seine.
The official address of Notre Dame is 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Place Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris.
How to reach Notre Dame?
It is quite easy to access Notre Dame cathedral.
If the Paris Metro is your preferred mode of transport you can get down at any of these Metro stations
Paris also has the commuter/rapid transit system – Réseau Express Régional (RER).
On both Line B and C of RER, you can get down at the Saint-Michel l – Notre-Dame station.
If you are driving a rented car or need parking for your hired cab, head to du Parvis Notre-Dame which can be accessed through Rue de la Cité.
You will find enough parking spots.
Notre Dame hours
From Monday to Friday Notre Dame opens at 8 am and closes at 6.45 pm.
On weekends – that is on Saturday and Sunday it opens at 8 am as usual but extends its closing time by an hour to 7.45 pm.
All through the week, there are no midday closures.
This timing is applicable all through the year.
Welcome desk’s timings
The information desk at the Cathedral follows a different timing.
On weekdays, it opens at 9.30 and closes at 6 pm.
On Saturdays and Sundays the information desk opens early at 9 am but closes at the same time – 6 pm.
The Mass takes place every Monday morning at 8 am and 9 am in the choir of Notre Dame.
The 9 am choir doesn’t happen in the months of July, August and the first 15 days of September.
From Monday to Saturday mass also happens in Notre Dame at 12 pm, at the main altar.
Sunday Mass at Notre Dame Paris
On Sunday, several Mass occur throughout the day.
At 8:30 am, there is a simple Mass followed by Laud’s service and then the Gregorian Mass at 10 am.
International Mass happens at 11:30 am followed by another Mass at 12:45 pm.
The 6:30 pm Mass is presided over by the archbishop of Paris which is an important event for Catholic tourists visiting Paris.
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How long does the Notre Dame take?
Visitors need at least an hour to explore Notre Dame – half an hour to walk around the Cathedral and another half hour to go in and enjoy the interiors.
There is as much to see from outside the Cathedral, as there is inside.
Time needed to climb Notre Dame Tower
If you decide to climb the towers of Notre Dame, you may need more time.
The queues are long and climbing up the 402 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 decide to sign the book of remembrances, factor in 15 minutes more.
Visiting the treasury will add another 20 minutes to your tour of Notre Dame.
Here is the summary –
|Walking outside||30 mins|
|Exploring inside||30 mins|
|Climbing the Tower||2 hours|
|Signing Book||15 mins|
|Visiting treasury||20 mins|
|Total time||3 hours 35 mins|
If you decide to go up, click here for everything about Notre Dame Paris Towers
Best time to visit Notre Dame
The best time to visit Notre Dame is 5.30 pm in the evening.
Around this time, visitors can enjoy the Notre Dame cathedral draped in sunset colors, relish the stained glass experience, and also hear Vespers Service singing which is wonderful.
If you plan to go up the Notre Dame Tower, 5.30 pm is too late for you because the entries to the Towers close at 6 pm.
Best time to experience the stained glass
For the best stained-glass experience at Notre Dame, mornings and evenings are much recommended because the light enters at an angle.
If you reach Notre Dame after dark, you won’t be able to enjoy the beauty of the stained glass.
Best months to visit
Queues at Notre Dame are the longest from April to October.
The best months for a quick visit are from November to March – you won’t waste a lot of time queuing up.
When NOT to visit Notre Dame
Major religious holidays like Christmas, Easter, All Saints’ Day, Ascension Day etc are not the best days to visit Notre Dame, Paris.
In fact, you must avoid visiting before and after these major religious holidays as well because a lot of believers attend the church.
Notre Dame is also exceptionally crowded in the French Spring holidays, Easter Weekend and on 14th of July.
As much as possible, avoid Sundays when it is teeming with believers who want to attend the service.
Notre Dame for free
There is no admission fee for Notre Dame in Paris.
And that is why it is always crowded, with long lines which lead to a lot of waiting time.
If you want to enter through a priority entrance and climb up the Bell Towers, you need to buy a ticket.
However, there is a way to use both the special entrance and go up the Towers for free – by buying the Paris Museum Pass.
Besides the Notre Dame Cathedral, this discount card also gets you free access to 60 other Parisians Museums and attractions.
Find out more about Paris Museum Pass
Waiting time at Notre Dame
Notre Dame Cathedral is notorious for its long line of tourists waiting to get in.
The lines are mainly because of visitors who block the entrance as they start taking pictures right at the entrance, blocking the way for others.
There’s no one to manage the lines, which means the lines move when they move.
On an average, you must wait for 30 minutes or so before you can enter the Notre Dame Cathedral.
If you opt to go up the Tower, you must stand in yet another queue, where the waiting time can even go up to 90 minutes during peak times.
This long waiting time is because of two reasons:
1. Every 10 minutes, only 20 people can walk up the stairs
2. There are lots of visitors who want to go up the stairs
If you must go up the Tower, we suggest you reach Notre Dame 30 minutes before it opens.
This way, you will be one of the first to go up the stairs.
Notre Dame tickets – priority entrance
The only way to avoid the long lines is by buying the priority entrance tickets.
If you have decided to buy Notre Dame tickets, you have three options.
1. Self-guided tour with audio guide
2. Guided tour
3. Guided tour with access to the Tower
All these tickets will get delivered to your inbox, immediately after purchase.
On the day of your visit, just show it on your smartphone and walk in.
1. Self-guided tour with audio guide
With this ticket, you get to skip the line and enter Notre Dame cathedral through the priority entrance.
At the reception, you handover an ID and collect the audio guide (you don’t have to pay).
Besides English, the other languages supported are: Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Portuguese.
Adult ticket (12+ years): 19 Euros
Child ticket (0 to 11 years): Free entry
2. Guided tour of Notre Dame
This English guided tour is available for two time slots – 10 am and 2 pm.
They take you in and around the Cathedral for an hour, narrating stories and sharing anecdotes.
The guide also shares whether the legends of the novel “Hunchback of Notre Dame” written by Victor Hugo are true or not.
After the guided tour is over, you are free to explore the cathedral on your own.
Adult ticket (18+ years): 19.99 Euros
Children (10-17 years): 15 Euros
Children (0-9 years): Free Entry
3. Guided tour with Tower access
This guided tour needs a lot of walking, not to mention the 400 steps you must climb to reach the tower.
With these tickets, you will skip two lines – the queue at the entrance and the queue for going up the Tower.
The duration of this tour is two hours.
Adult ticket (4+ years): 44 Euros
Child ticket (0 to 3 years): Free entry
Recommenced reading: Everything about climbing Notre Dame Towers
Notre Dame combo tickets
There are two reasons why Notre Dame combo tours are popular among tourists.
Reason 1: Combo tour tickets are 20% cheaper than if the tickets were bought individually
Reason 2: There are lots of interesting attractions near Notre Dame, which tourists prefer to see on the same day
For instance, The Louvre, Sainte-Chapelle and Latin Quarter are within 15 minutes of walking distance from the Notre Dame.
Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe are 5 Kms from Notre Dame and can be reached in a cab in 10 minutes.
Here are our favourite Notre Dame combo tours –
1. Notre Dame and Ile de la Cité
You start with a walking tour of island Ile de la Cité, which is on one of two natural islands on the Seine River.
The second part of the tour includes a guided tour of Notre Dame.
You also get to climb the towers and see panoramic view of the city.
Adult ticket (15+ years): 35 Euros
Children ticket (4-14 years): 30 Euros
Children ticket (0-3 years): Free Entry
2. Notre-Dame Towers and Sainte-Chapelle
This tour is quite popular with the religious tourists.
You will skip the lines and enter both Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame under the guidance of an English speaking guide.
You will also climb up the tower at Notre Dame.
Adult ticket (19+ years): 63 Euros
Children ticket (4 to 18 years): 53 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 3 years): Free entry
3. Notre-Dame and Louvre Museum
This ticket gets you skip the line entrance to both Notre Dame and The Louvre, saving you a lot of waiting time.
After exploring the Cathedral, you skip the line to go up the Towers.
At The Louvre, the guide takes you around on a masterpieces tour showing you world-famous icons like Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace etc.
Adult ticket (15+ years): 96 Euros
Children ticket (4-14 years): 91 Euros
Children ticket (0-3 years): Free Entry
Dress code at Notre Dame
Since Notre Dame in Paris is also a place of worship, strict dress code is implemented.
If you are found violating the dress code, you will be stopped at the entrance itself.
Women are expected to wear clothes that cover their shoulder and knees.
Low cut or sleeveless clothing, shorts, miniskirts are a strict no.
It is advisable for men to avoid shorts and hats as well.
If you are visiting on a Sunday and plan to sit for the service, you may want to dress up a bit.
Inside Notre Dame Paris
Notre Dame is about 127 meters (417 feet) long and 48 meters (158 feet) wide.
It can hold around 9000 people.
Looking at the long lines, many visitors decide to just explore it from outside.
This is a huge mistake.
Notre Dame’s interiors is marvellous – you must buy the priority entrance ticket, and step inside.
The three enormous stained glass windows are its most famous feature.
The glass windows were created in different time periods, but the parts have been preserved from the medieval times.
The diameter of the two large rose windows is 13.1 meters (43 feet).
The rose window on the West, over the portals, was the first and smallest of the windows in Notre-Dame.
Once you are inside, you must check out the top floor too.
It’s built from so much of oak wood that it is estimated that a forest of 21 hectares (52 acres) can be recreated from the trees cut for the construction of this masterpiece.
There are around 29 chapels in the cathedral.
In the chapels, you will find a silver statue of the Virgin Mary dating back to the 14th century.
Don’t miss out on the “Mays” of Notre-Dame de Paris.
These paintings are referred to as ‘Mays’ because the Parisian Goldsmiths’ Society commissioned them every year, to be gifted to the cathedral on May 1.
The organ of the Notre Dame has around 7800 pipes and is 30-foot-wide.
The Cathedral has five bells, the largest of which is called Emmanuel.
It has been part of Notre Dame since 16th century.
Emmanuel is in the South tower and weighs over 13 tons.
This bell is always rung first, at least 5 seconds before the rest. The other four bells are in the North tower.
Notre Dame’s most valuable relic is the Crown of Thorns which is a legendary cultural property from Judea.
Safety in Notre-Dame
During your trip to Notre Dame, please be on your guard – it could mean the difference between a nice tour of the Cathedral or a holiday gone bad.
Outside the Notre Dame (and in other tourist areas of Paris), you can be approached by locals requesting you to sign a petition.
Do not sign anything, walk away.
Once you show interest, you will be asked to make a donation – money which goes into the scamster’s pocket.
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Yashika travels to write. From capturing the endless sea from the coast of Thailand to walking barefoot on the sands of Sahara, the experience is everything to her, and she captures the experience in her words. For her, a good vacation includes the right amount of activity and rest. Favorite Cities: Istanbul, Hanoi, Cape Town, Singapore