PARIS – NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS

Paris – Notre-Dame de Paris

Of all the monuments and tourist attractions in Paris, my favourite is The Notre-Dame de Paris, specifically climbing the tall towers to get up and close with the gargoyles and take in their view. If you’re researching the cathedral, note that access to the Towers is managed by a separate organization than the cathedral itself.

The Towers are not open everyday, so I would highly recommend checking the website ahead of time and not all levels are accessible everyday. The total climb up is 422 steps and mostly circles around a tight staircase. On my last trip to Paris, I climbed both the Arc de Triomphe and Notre-Dame. Between the two, I 100% wanted to climb Notre-Dame again.

This is a popular attraction and there is a limit to the number of people admited daily. The last admission is 45 minutes before closing and there is usually already a line outside an hour before the towers open. I’d recommend aiming for 9:00-9:30 depending on how the rest of your day looks. On this trip, it actually took us two tries to get in. The first day, we stopped by around noon to a 2 hour queue and decided to just take in the stained glass windows and interior. The second day, we got up earlier.

From the top of the tower, there’s a stunning view of the back of Notre-Dame, the bell tower, the Eiffel Tower and even Sacré-Cœur. Each of the stone gargoyles are unique and charming, a few even carry a fish in their mouths, a snack for later. I won’t lie, the climb up isn’t the easiest, but going at a steady pace, I made it (lagging just a bit behind the main group). There is time to take breaks and windows along the way.

After touring the towers I would recommend going inside the cathedral if you haven’t yet. We proceeded to walk around the side and back of Notre-Dame, another beautiful perspective of the building. We then crossed a bridge, making our way to the neighbouring island and more importantly, Berthillon ice cream stand. Two scoops of creamy tiramisu ice cream makes the perfect reward after the morning’s exercise.

Another 10 minute walk North across Pont Marie brought us to lunch at L’as Du Fallafel, and arguably the best falafel sandwich in Paris. Stephen and I opted for the Chicken Shawarma and after the first bite, I was convinced. The pita bread was thick, almost naan like, and the garlic sauce was so good, tons of garlic flavour but also balanced with a bit of acidity. Lucky for us there wasn’t a line but even if there had been the ordering process was very efficient. As soon as we approached the shop, someone asked us if we were eating in or taking to go and took our order right away. The pickup window was a peek into the speedy production of sandwiches in the kitchen. All in all, we had our shawarma in hand within 5 minutes to share. I debated going back for a second of my own.

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