Notre-Dame Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris)

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Paris has so many famous and memorable monuments and buildings. The very medieval Notre-Dame Cathedral (noh-truh DAHM) is – for sure – one of them! In French, Notre-Dame means “Our Lady” so the cathedral’s name means “Our Lady of Paris.”

(As of 15 April 2019, due to the major fire the Cathedral experienced, it is temporarily closed for visiting the inside of the Cathedral).

You will notice Notre-Dame has so many arches, statues, elaborate details, gargoyles, and stained-glass windows – this style of building – or architecture – is called “French Gothic.” Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the world’s most famous Gothic cathedrals. It took 170 years to build.

Also, don’t just look up… if you look down on the ground, look for a round, brass metal circle just to the right of the front of the main entrance the Cathedral. This is called Paris Point Zéro and marks the official center of the city of Paris. When you stand on that spot, you are in the very center of the entire city of Paris!

It took 170 years to build what is one of the largest churches in the world. And it’s where Napoleon crowned himself Emperor in 1804.

Our favorite parts of the Cathedral include:

Emmanuel the Bell

There is a HUGE bell in the left tower. (Or the right side if you’re standing outside). The bell has a name, it’s called Emmanuel. Emmanuel weighs just over 13 tons – as much as 3 elephants!

Flying Buttresses

The building is also famous for its flying buttresses. (Funny name, right?) Flying buttresses are the large exterior arch supports that help hold up the building. These are another feature of Gothic architecture.

Rose Window

If you go inside, be sure to look at the huge rose stained-glass windows. Rose Window is what they call the huge round windows on churches! Pretty neat, huh? A stained-glass window is a window made up of smaller colored glass pieces. Almost like a coloring book – but with glass. The window in the north contains the original 13th-century glass!

North Tower Steps

You can also climb the 387 steps to the top of the north tower just like I did for great views of the city and up-close views of the gargoyles!! In between the cathedral’s two towers is the Galerie des Chimères where you’ll find the famous gargoyles (chimeres) placed here to ward off evil. Who can make the funniest gargoyle face!?

Notre-Dame Cathedral

See also our Things To Do in Paris, France article!