The fire at Notre Dame Cathedral tore through not only the roof and spire but the hearts of many who had hoped to visit or have visited the iconic structure.

Like most of the world, I was sad to watch it burn. But once the smoke cleared, it was obvious that the fire looked much worse than it was. Relics were saved and Notre Dame Cathedral will rebuild.

This post chronicles my visit in May 2018.

Notre Dame Cathedral

The line was long but it only took about 20 minutes to get in from this point.

The exterior of Notre Dame has plenty of ornamentation. Many of it has been replaced and repaired in the last 50 years during numerous renovations.

Notre Dame Portal of Judgment

The “Portal of Judgment” is the central entrance of the western façade, installed in the years 1220-1230, shortly after the other two portals of the façade. It represents the last judgment as it is written in the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Gallery of Kings

Also on the western façade is a row of 28 statues called the Gallery of Kings. Starting in the 13th century, a statue was added for each new king of France. This row of kings was destroyed during the French Revolution (when the people of France turned against monarchy) but restored in the 19th century.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Point Zero Paris

Just before entering the cathedral, notice the “Point Zero” marker. This marks the geographic center of Paris. I love geographic markers (my favorite gift shop trinkets are the reproduction USGS survey markers) so of course, I had to stand on the center of Paris before next walking into the spiritual center of the city.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Inside Notre Dame Cathedral

Walking through the portal past these incredible doors is a bucket list experience. I love visiting churches and cathedrals and this is the holy mother of them all.

Notre Dame Cathedral

* angelic singing *

Notre Dame Cathedral

The outside buttresses are completely to thank for the ability to have all this stained glass. The additional reinforcement provided by the buttresses, piers and other stone supports enable the main walls of the cathedral to be non-structural, and thus a greater wall area was available for stained glass.

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Notre Dame’s main rose window, completed about 1255, set the pattern for many other Gothic cathedrals and their rose windows. The west rose window is nearly 33 ft in diameter with a spider web like frame for support. It also has one of the highest ratios of glass to stone than any other rose window.

Enjoy these stained glass photos without commentary!

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Altar

The 1725 Pietà statue, “Descent from the Cross,” by French sculptor Nicolas Coustou survived the fire without damage. That is a gift!

Notre Dame Cathedral

The roof area shown in this photo collapsed when the burning spire fell into it.

Notre Dame Cathedral

A small donation and the lighting of a prayer candle at the feet of Saint Thérèse (a patron saint of France) for friends and family who’ve passed on.

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Many statues are throughout Notre Dame, I was taken by this one of Joan of Arc, another patron saint of France.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral Towers

Be sure to visit my other post (coming soon) all about exploring the Notre Dame Cathedral Towers. You must acquire a separate ticket for access to this area of the cathedral.

Back outside

The sunset was magical tonight. I couldn’t stop taking photos of the building in the changing light.

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You must remember to walk around the cathedral to the rear. You’ll get a great look at the iconic French Gothic architectural details like flying buttresses (especially those on the apse, or rear) and spires. Plus, this angle of the cathedral captures all of those fantastic clouds at sunset.

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The River Seine is the heartbeat of Paris. Boats continually move through and the banks are lined with people sitting and strolling.

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Across from the cathedral (and along the entire length of the river through Paris) you’ll see Parisians drinking wine, eating dinner, laughing and playing music. This is the good life.

Notre Dame Cathedral Picnic on the River SeineBand on the River Seine

A few more peeks to the sky from the Seine. Even with all this architecture surrounding us, the sky demands everyone’s attention tonight.

Sunset on the River SeineParis sunsetNotre Dame Cathedral

Visit Notre Dame Cathedral

Of course, because of the fire, the cathedral will be closed for tours indefinitely. In the meantime, visit their website to keep track of the rebuild, donate, or just to read more about some of the things covered in this post.

Comments (1)

  • Jo A Walsh . April 23, 2019 . Reply

    Again ,I love your vacations .I hope it will be restored to it’s beautiful state.

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Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame, Paris, France