Another prominent monument in France, arguably more famous than the Eiffel Tower itself, is the Notre Dame Cathedral. For how much I’ve heard “Notre Dame” be mentioned, I know surprisingly little about the cathedral and its history.
While in France, I took a bus tour of some of the famous landmarks in Paris; one stop included the Notre Dame Cathedral. Here are some of the most interesting points I remembered from my tour guide:
- The Notre Dam was originally created to honor Mary. People hoped that maybe if God was too busy to hear their prayers, then maybe they could pray to Mary and she would pass the message along to God.
- The cathedral was the first example of a Gothic cathedral in France, noted for its impressive stained glass and high arches.
Another fun fact, there are a TON of pigeons around the Notre Dame plaza. I really have no idea why there were that many particularly around the cathedral but they literally swarms of them.
If you’re brave enough, you can feed them some bread and they’ll perch themselves on your arms, shoulders, or even head!
Now, on to the actual cathedral.
Notre Dame Exterior
The Notre Dame is a grand structure, notable for its beautiful and minute details both on the outside and the inside.
This is one arches that sit on top of the entryway to the cathedral. The detailed carvings on the arches actually depict a story from the bible.
This architectural design was a common practice because many churchgoers were illiterate at the time the cathedral was built. The carvings allowed the masses to understand the biblical story without having to read the bible. Which also meant that the church could dictate how the story was interpreted since nobody could read and interpret it for themselves.
Notre Dame Interior
Inside, the cathedral is quite dark but that doesn’t hinder you from seeing the incredible detailed carvings and impressive arches.
The stained glass is both impressive in size and incredibly elaborate. It’s so difficult to comprehend how someone was able to create this centuries ago.
I would definitely suggest going to the Notre Dame on a sunny so you can see all the colors coming though the stained glass design.
The Notre Dame is a truly beautiful place. Despite what your region may be, this centuries old cathedral creates such a sophisticated and spiritual atmosphere.
Student & Travel Tips
There is no admission fee to enter the Notre Dame, which is awesome!
However, you will probably have to wait outside for a little because you must pass security to enter and they check all your bags. Make sure you don’t bring any suitcases because they will not let you in.
But, keep in mind, that even though this is a historical site, the Notre Dame still is an active cathedral that people come to worship in. Please, out of respect, dress modestly (nothing fancy but cover your shoulders and no super shorty shorts or baggy/ripped pants). Also, be as quiet as possible. It’s simply good etiquette and not that difficult to do.