A must see on any trip to Paris is a visit to the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris, most often referred to simply as Notre-Dame. The Notre-Dame is quite possibly one of the most well known churches in Europe if not in the world. (at least in my opinion) I visited and toured the Cathedral for the first time while backpacking post college and was able to visit/tour again when C and I were abroad in 2013. We have walked past the Cathedral many times since and each time I am in awe of beauty & the presence the building commands. UPDATE: While the Notre-Dame is currently closed due to the fire in April of 2019 (& likely will be for sometime) I still encourage those visiting to visit the area – you can appreciate the architecture from outside – and the local businesses in the vicinity are struggling due to the decrease in visitors around the location (see some of my suggestions below)
So what makes the Notre Dame a place you must visit? Notre-Dame is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, click here for the google map location. The cathedral is located on what is basically an island – the island is formed by the meanders of the Seine. The cathedral dates back to 1168 and the style is considered French Gothic architecture. You can learn more about the construction of the cathedral by visiting the official site.
As a Catholic, visiting a church during mass, no matter the language is something truly special. I was blessed to visit during a service during one of our trips, and the service truly was a stark reminder that while some aspects of the Cathedral have become a museum – that it is truly an active Cathedral and is home not only to local Parisians but to travelers from across the globe. For that reason the cathedral is always free. Yet for a small fee you can visit the crypt, the tower, or the treasury.
The Cathedral also houses huge archives of the Catholic faith. These archives allegedly houses the original crown of thorns as well as a nail and cross from the Crucifixion. (update News is reporting the archives have been saved from the fire) No matter your denomination or religion – a trip to Notre-Dame is in order for any visitor to Paris.