Notre-Dame cathedral is the most-visited monument in the Paris, located at its historic heart, the Ile de la Cité. On the cusp of being destroyed in the 19th century, saved at the last minute thanks to Victor Hugo’s prestigious novel (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame), the cathedral has been the object of many artistic fantasies, taking part in some of the most original cinematic adaptations.
The construction of Notre-Dame in the Middle Ages and its several ambitious restorations put to test, each in their time, ground-breaking architectural innovations. The cathedral witnessed many major events that emphasized its fundamental connection to the French history and power: royal funerals, the coronation of Napoleon, the Mass celebrating the liberation of Paris in 1945, the obsequies of Charles de Gaulle…
Lavish ornate portals, refined ironwork, spectacular rib vaults and flying buttresses, luminous stained glass windows, menacing gargoyles and chimeras, radiant chapels and magnificent rose windows, all contribute to the glory of this medieval gem of Gothic art, still fascinating today.
Since the first stone of Notre-Dame was laid, in 1160, up until the extensive renovation in the 19th century, led by Viollet-le-Duc, this massive yet elegant monument dominates Paris — if not geometrically, then symbolically.
The parvis, chevet apse, and the small Square Jean XXIII offer different points of view at the exterior of the cathedral. The majestic beauty of the naves and the breathtaking panorama from the towers set the scene for many stories that Notre-Dame lived through. You’ll hear about Maurice de Sully, Louis XIV, Napoleon, you’ll see the cameos of Viollet-le-Duc, and you’ll revive the passions of Victor Hugo’s famous heroes: Quasimodo the hunchback bell-ringer, Esmeralda the seductive Gypsy girl, and Claude Frollo, the tormented and deceitful Archdeacon.