Notre Dame Cathedral offers free visits and free weekly organ concerts.
With more than 13 million visitors per year, Notre Dame Cathedral is the most visited monument in France. So what draws crowds to the famous site?
The cathedral, which is more than eight hundred years old, houses some of the Catholic tradition’s most important relics. But you do not have to be religious to appreciate the history and beauty of Notre Dame Cathedral. Notre Dame (“Our Lady” in French) is celebrated as one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in France. The cathedral is also thought to be one of the first buildings built with “flying buttresses” (a specific type of wall support) in its architectural design.
Visits to the ground floor of the cathedral are free. Because of Notre Dame’s popularity, crowds tend to gather at the entrance during the summer months and the lines can become quite long. Your best bet is to try to arrive early or to come back later if you see that the line is particularly long. However, even if you end up waiting, the lines to visit the ground floor tend to move quite fast. The towers cost 8€ to visit and the wait can be much longer.
In front of the cathedral, you’ll find a small nondescript marker for “point zero,” the location which is considered to be the official center of Paris. If you want to take a break and get away from the crowds after visiting Notre Dame, you can go to Square Jean XXIII, a small park located just behind the cathedral.
The cathedral hosts a free organ recital every Saturday at 8 p.m. The events first began in 1967. Since then, roughly two thousand organists from all over the world have given recitals at Notre Dame. See the schedule of upcoming recitals here.