There is another monument that brings the most crowds, but if there is one that identify the soul of Paris,France the most is the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris. All the major events in history has gone by it or thru it,and one cannot possibly come to Paris without stopping for a visit here. Its a must.
The most you need are the specific sites for information on the Cathedral as the main site Cathédrale de Paris, 6, parvis Notre-Dame, 75004;Tel +33 01 42 34 56 10.the access is free and to visit the treasure of it is only 3€ everday from 7h35 to 18h main webpage http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/-English- . The treasure by the southside of the choir on a narrow entry built by Viollet le Duc in 1850 houses amongst other things the passion relics,the palatine cross with fragments of the true cross of Christ, the linen shirt of Saint Louis, and the underwear of Pope Pie X .
The tours or towers is visited also. There are just behind on the side entrance at rue du cloîte Notre Dame,75004. Tel +33 01 53 10 07 00. open every day from 10h to 18h30 from april to september 30th. From october to march until 17h30. Nighttime visits on summer from may to august until 23h. admission is 8€ free for under 18. webpage is http://notre-dame-de-paris.monuments-nationaux.fr/
Built on the initiative of its bishop of Paris (1160 to 1196 AD) Maurice de Sully. The principal nave built between 1180-1220 AD is 60 meters long (198 ft) wide of 12,50 meters(41,25 ft) , and high of 33 meters(108,9 ft). The choir built between 1163-1177 AD is 36 meters long(118,8 ft) . The Cathedral continue to add and renovate until the building was completed by 1345 AD.
Some of the items not to be missed are pointed out as exterior and interior but let me give some ideas looking at it from the outside, facing the cathedral at the parvis or central plaza ( where all kilometer distances are measure in France ) you look left to the tower Nord=North,the other extrems tower is the Sud=South; both of these towers with rosary windows of 13,10 meters ( 43.2 ft) beyond these towers you see the pointed arrow=flèche and right across it is the transept. As you come in to the cathedral you are at the portail de la vierge or virgen door looking at it from left to right, you continue with the portail du jugement dernier or final judgement door,the portail de Sainte Anne or Saint Anne door. Right above the doors you have the Galerie des Rois or gallery of kings, above it the Rose Occidentale or western rosary window and still higher you see the Grande Galerie or grand gallery. To your extreme right still looking facing the cathedral you see the Contreforts or holding scaffolds tower like figures and a side door, red door or porte rouge; following past this you are walking on the south side of the Cathedral you will find the Portail Saint Etienne or Saint Stephen door ,and right above it the Rose du croisillon sud (9,70 meters or 32 ft a gift from Saint Louis) . Continuing to the rear you will see the buttress arches acting as a counter to the weight of the main building. and right behind the Cathedral you will find the Chevet or apse.
Some of the famous buildings surrounding the Cathedral often overlook by visitors but of great historical value are going in the direction of south tower side of the Cathedral, the huge Episcopal palace, followed by the Hotel-Dieu (a historical hospital still functioning today and free access and on which you can see the chapel of hotel-dieu) on a side street in front of parvis Notre Dame see the church of Saint Christophe, from parvis and guiding you by the north tower you will see the church of St Pierre-aux-Boeufs (old church of the butchers). Right next to the north tower you see a small building which is the baptistery of St Jean-le-Rond, and on the corner of it is the side street to the tours or towers admission on rue du Cloîte Notre Dame. You should walk right out of the parvis straight out from the door of last judgement into the street Rue Neuve Notre Dame, one of the oldest in Paris.
Now some descriptions on what you see on the Cathedral inside and out. The parvis allows you to go into the archeological site where you will see a museum of the old foundations of the cathedral and the Seine river ,including a piece of the wall by the port or quai of the old Lutecia, remains of spas of gallo romans times, the wall of the city from the 4C, the basement of the old Hotel-Dieu, and the fondations of the hospital for lost children or hospice des enfants trouves. The rose occidentale or western rosary measure 10 sq meters or about 170.6 sq ft done between 1190-1220 AD. In the gallery of kings there were 28 figures from the time before Christ, the communards thought they were kings and destroyed them in 1873. They were rebuilt. The grand gallery has a nice view over the parvis and the Seine river. On the virgen door the deco is from 1208 AD except the virgen mother statue over the serpent that is from the 19C. The red door or porte rouge is from 1250-1270 AD reserve for the monks entrance.
As we come inside, you will see the huge nave built between 1180-1220 AD and the choirs built between 1163-1220 AD . You will find many chapels such as Chapelle Notre Dame des Sept Douleurs,Chapelle Saint Denis,Chapelle Sainte Madeleine, Chapelle Saint Ferdinand, Chapelle Saint Georges, Chapelle Saint Guillaume, Chapelle Saint Louis, Chapelle Saint Marcel, Chapelle de la Sainte Enfance, Chapelle des Fonds Baptismaux, Chapelle Notre Dame de Gadalupe, Chapelle Saint Charles, Chapelle Sainte Clotilde, Chapelle Saint Landry, Chapelle Saint Vincent de Paul, Chapelle Sainte Anne, Chapelle Sainte Genevieve, Chapelle Saint Eloi, Chapelle Saint Joseph, and Chapelle Saint Pierre. The whole of the Cathedral proper is 4 800 sq meters (51 648 sq ft) , where accordingly about 9000 persons can attend Mass; total surface of 5 500 sq meters.
Some interesting information, the gallery of faces or chiméres are strange birds, serpents, are lookout to see the last judgement, there are not to be confused with the gargoyles which only function is to discharge the rain water coming from the roof towards the exterior. The arrow pointed high behind the transept is build in oak covered with lead and along weights 750 tons, all with company from statues in copper in groups of three, the 12 apostles look toward the floor except one, that looks at the arrow, that is Saint Vincent patron of the architects! as design by Viollet-le-Duc.
At the foot of the transept south east section you will see a statue of the Virgen with a huge bouquet of flowers; this is the NOTRE DAME DE PARIS ,dating from the 14C and put at the Cathedral in 1818!!!
Some of the events that took place here was the coronation of Napoléon I on December 2nd, 1804 in the presence of the Pope Pie VII, where Napoléon himself crown his emperatrice Josephine. At the parvis all merchants exempt of taxes are installed,as well as those sentence to die, nearby there the master of the templars order, Jacques de Molay was executed in 1314 AD. The funerals of the Prince de Condé ,where bishop Bossuet did the ceremony (he was the personal priest and religious adviser of king Louis XIV and buried at the Cathedral of Meaux, dept 77 as he was its bishop); General De Gaulle, and Presidents Pompidou, and Mitterrand was held its funerals here too. Saint Louis put his relics here first in 1329 AD,Henry IV held a procession here in 1594 AD for the liberation of Paris, Louis XIII in 1638 AD does his wishes and vouts to the Virgen, the mass for the marriage of king Louix XIV is celebrated here in 1660 AD, the ceremony for the liberation of Paris in August 1944 as well as the victory of WWII on May 9 1945 is held here. It saw the excommunication of king Philippe Auguste in January of 1200 AD by Pope Innocent III as well as closure of the Cathedral. The coming back to the crown of the Bourbons after the wedding of the Duke of Berry in 1816 AD and the baptism of the duke of Bordeaux in 1820 AD. Many many more in the life and history of the city of PARIS.
And yet another view go to the gallery of beasts or galerie de Chimères and the plateform of the tower south where a huge organ is held ;this made of copper and enamel weighting 13 tons;first use for the baptism of Emmanuel grandson of king Louis XIV in 1682. You need about 400 marches to reach it but all worth it. The organ has 110 beats and 8000 cables combinations and was restored in 1992 AD, some of the cables are 11 meters high (36.3 ft) all kinds of music is played here beautifully. The roof is covered with 1326 lead tiles weighting about 210 tons. The bells one call Emmanuel has been recognised as one of the best sounds in Europe, weights 13 tons and the bat to hit it alone wights 500 kilos or about 1,102 pounds.
Hope you have enjoyed the story of this magnificent building for all of us in this magnificent day of Christmas 2010. To come here is to see and hear the history of Paris,France. Its not a complete story but I am sure will give you the force to visit and finds new ways to enjoy it as I have for many years. Cheers! Photos in no particular order to follow;