CORRECTION: It’s 387 steps up the tower, NOT 837, it feels like 837 steps however, be warned!
[01:00] If you don’t have 1 to 2 hours to spend at Notre Dame, at the very least go look at the façade, don’t skip it, walk around the outside a little bit.
[02:00] You’re standing in front of Notre Dame, you’re on the Esplanade or Parvis. Take a look at the three front doors. All of it has been recently cleaned up, it’s nice clean stone, but the original church was all color, all painted, the background of the 3 doorways was all pure gold, so was the background of the massive statues.
[05:45] Move off to the left and go off to the side street along the side of the church. This is where the line forms to go up the tower, more on that later. You will see some of the original medallions and you will see hint of color here and there. Go all the way down along the left side of the church until you get to the Notre Dame park (open until dark). Turn around and see the whole choir and the back side.
[07:45] You can see the flying buttresses from the back of the church, you must go see all of that. Great photo opportunities too. Walk all the way around the church. See the little spire on the roof with the copper statues, they are green by now and look almost alive.
[11:20] The city of Paris has renovated this lovely park in the back of the church (that’s where the bathroom is too). Take it all in from the outside and come around to the front of the church.
[12:30] The Esplanade or Parvis. The word “parvis” comes from the word paradise, so as you stand in front of Notre Dame you are contemplating paradise.
[14:00] On the Esplanade you will find a massive statue of Charlemagne. You can also see the plaque on the ground that marks the spot from where all distances were measured before the invention of the GPS.
[16:00] After seeing the outside, go look at the inside.
[16:30] Practical information: entrance to the church is free, opens from 8 am till 6:45 pm, they close an hour later on week-ends, but they close it. You can enter the Treasure of the Cathedral 1/3 of the way down on the right side. Open 9 to 6, it is free.
[18:00] The tower is 837 steps, you need good knees and good lungs. Entrance fee is 8€, open starting at 10, stays open 11pm in the summer only, closes at 7:45 the rest of the year. There’s always a line, go early. You get to see the bells, you get a great view, you see all sorts of details.
[19:30] Archeological Crypt on the Parvis, entrance fee also unless you have a museum pass.
[20:30] Notre Dame is on Ile de la Cité, right in the center. If you stay nearby walk there. List of subway lines and subway stations nearby. Many buses also. It’s an easy place to get to.
[23:00] Food: lots of places to eat nearby if you wish, there are cafés and restaurants and snack stands that will serve you lots of food to eat in or on one of the benches. Service is fast and efficient, not more expensive than places further away, 12€-16€ for a simple meal.
[25:45] If you need a bathroom do it at the restaurant where you’re eating. Otherwise go back to the back-end of Notre Dame to the park and use the free clean facilities behind the church. Open until sun down.
[27:15] Turn off your flash for inside photos. Your flash can’t help you unless you’re shooting something very close to you (within 3-5 feet).
[28:00] Even if you can only go to Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, you’ll get a good feel for Paris, but don’t skip those!