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Notre Dame (Paris, France)

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Notre Dame de Paris (French for "Our Lady of Paris", meaning the church in Paris dedicated to the Virgin Mary), often known simply as Notre Dame in English, Gothic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in Paris, France, with its main entrance to the west. A major tourist destination, it is still used as a Roman Catholic cathedral and is the seat of the Archbishop of Paris. Notre Dame de Paris is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.

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      19.10.2009 16:42
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      Must-see - even for non-religious people like me

      We were very lucky. Our hotel was just two minutes walk away from this magnificient building, and we had our morning coffee gazeing on it every day we were there. Most people have heard of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, certainly the souvenir shop owners around the area have! Quasimodo this, Esmerelda that. But seeing the cathedral for yourself is awe-inspiring. The sheer size of the place! The Gothic beauty! And when it's lit up at night - wow! Entrance into the building is free, tho I believe you have to pay to climb to the top. You can purchase an audio guide in the language of your choice, but we didn't bother, so I can't comment on them. There is a big sized sign just inside asking you to show respect as this is a building of worship. By this, they mean talk in hushed tones and turn the flash on your camera off, and don't enter places where worship is occuring. This really gets my blood boiling. WHY do people insist on IGNORING simple requests??!!!! How hard is it to shut your mouths and turn your camera to a natural setting?? If I can manage it, WHY CAN'T THEY!? Children I can understand to a point, but this was grown adults - snapping away as people prayed, calling to their friends a few steps ahead. Sorry The beauty of this building shines above these ignorant people. The stain glass windows are breathtaking. The statues are beautiful. Everywhere you look, there is something to see. And this may sound odd, but it's not overly religious. I mean, obviously the statues are of religious figures, the windows show religious scenes, but all together it's not forced down your throat. The size of the building is astounding. You'd get a sore neck if you looked (or tried to see) to the roof for too long. The length stretches out in front of you, but theres so much to see that you don't realise how far you've walked. And there's no pushing for money. You can light a candle, with a suggested small donation. You can take a larger candle away, with a slightly larger suggested donation. But they are only suggested. There's no-one standing by to check what you're leaving. If you're in the area, this is another must-see sight. But please, lower your voice and turn the flash off!

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        23.02.2009 22:55
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        Wonderful cathedral.

        Located on the Île de la Cité in the centre of Paris Notre Dameis an impressive cathedral a visit to which would be all the more pleasurable if it were not for the crowds. At least that is the opinion of my boyfriend and I have to agree with him, such is the draw of this famous Parisian landmar that just like the Eiffel Tower it is permanenty busy no matter what time of year that you visit. From the oustide this is a wonderful example of Gothic architecture with its wonderfully imposing facade with the sorrowful gargoyles staring down on the visiting masses. What always impresses me is how light it is inside when you enter the area beyond the nave and certainly the whole building has a wonderful calming effect, that is with the exception of the noisy Italian tourists who seemed to insist of holding conversations at full volume where ever they went. Entry is free and the cathedral is ope everyday and the hours depend on the time of year however if you wish to visit the towers for the steep winding climb then you will pay about 8 euro however it is worth it to see the facade and garoyles up close. Walking around the cathedral is lovely as it seems to change shape and you can appreciate the different influences on its design, it is one of the must see sights in Paris and a nice way to spend a couple of hours plus if you ae lucky you may encounter one of the organ recitals that take place every so often on some days.

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          02.10.2005 15:28
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          Notre Dame's ambience is divine, architecturally pleasing and comforting

          Notre Dame Cathedral is a Parisian Catholic church which welcomes ''global'' parishioners each day for worship, as well as travellers who come to appreciate over 700 years of divinity and architecture. On previous visits I only saw it from the outside but this year fate called me on a historic day, one remembered in sadness: the day Pope John Paul II died. My sister and I walked around this massive, beautiful interior and we slowly realised the priest was praying sadly, amid holy incense and across the floor a growing ''lake'' of candles with a photograph of the ailing Pope centre-place. We thought he had died but other visitors quietly advised us that he was in his last hours. That evening he died and the next evening we went back to Notre Dame and took part in his special Mass, attended by the French Prime Minister. The entire area was closed off to traffic, police were everywhere and we were so moved to join many thousands for this really special Catholic farewell to the Pope who had visited for a special service at the Notre Dame 'Our Lady' in May 1980. Notre Dame de Paris, as it stands, was not the first church on this site but the Gothic church as it is now, has been a visually impressive part of the Paris scene, beside the Seine river, since the first foundation stone was laid in 1163 using plans designed by Maurice de Sully. Construction took three stages until it was finished in 1250, with huge sponsorship from French kings during this time and from wealthy benefactors through the years. Some vital statistics will give you and idea of how huge and impressive Notre Dame is: 130m long, 48m wide and 35 m high and the Twin Towers are 69 metres high and you have to walk up 386 stairs to get a magnificent view of Paris. The South Tower houses a 13 ton Emmanuel bell. Most impressive feature inside has to be the Rose Window - 10 metres of the most fabulous stain-glass windows - what a feat this must have been for its creators and what a photo opportunity for me. It is, however, only one of many beautiful, themed, stain-glass creations which light up this truly ancient, house of prayer and communion. The cathedral took a battering during the Revolution in the 18th century, with treasures being destroyed and parts of the building plundered but it has recovered and what you see today is just magnificent. All cathedrals have huge majesty and awe but Notre Dame really does quiet you, forces you to be peaceful, to contemplate the energy and effort craftsmen and women have put in over the centuries. In 1991 a modern ''general maintenance'' programme commenced so today you may have ugly scaffolding obscuring your view of creatively attractive features, but you have to remind yourself that it is all for the future preservation and maintenance of Notre Dame. We would have liked to go to a sacred music concerts which we'd been told are held in Notre Dame but time constraints prevented us from doing so. If cathedral choral music interests you, check this out because I think the accoustics would be ''heavenly'' here. And from the heavens: Notre Dame has a special place in literary history. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo's Quasimodo, I'm reliably informed that it is not him currently ringing the Emmanuel Bell! From the exterior, the front of Notre Dame Cathedral is architecturally stunning; two massive white towers and three big, arched doorways welcome you to this historic Paris landmark. Hundreds and hundreds of people gather outside the front of Notre Dame; each time I've been past it the scene is one of a park, with many people sitting, chatting and of course taking photos out in front. If the queue looks formidable, be patient because what awaits you inside is definitely worthwhile. As mentioned earlier, I hadn't been inside Notre Dame Cathedral on previous visits and several people chided me and said I was missing out - they were right. Don't put it off, take the Hop on Hop Off bus, the Metro or reglar bus: be sure to set aside an hour or two to meander in and around Notre Dame. It is nearby the Louvre and just over the bridge is the Latin Quarter with it's narrow lanes and fantastic restaurants/cafes and little shops. During the week Notre Dame 'Our Lady' opening hours are 8am to 12.30 and 2pm to 7pm. On Sunday 8.30am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 7pm. (I cannot remember if I paid or not so I went on a long search in the internet and finally found a mention: I believe the cathedral is free but you do pay a fee for specialist areas of antiques and religious pieces and the tower climb.)

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            27.10.2001 00:16
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            Located in the very heart of Paris and on the Cité island in the middle of the river Seine, Notre Dame cathedral represents the apitome of gothic design. Although construction began at around 1160, it wasn't until 90 years later that the two towers on the west side were erected and another 550 years when the grand spire was added. The towers were to have had spires of their own, but these were never completed. In 1804, it was at the cathedral that Napoleon was crowned as Emperor of France. The 386 steps that take you to 69 meters (226 feet) from street level are well worth the climb, as you are rewarded with stunning views of central paris and beyond and the Gargoyles and statues that are built on the roof and facade just cannot be appreciated from ground level. Inside the cathedral the three stain-glassed rose windows are nearly 10 meters (32 feet) in diameter and create a spectacular colour and light display on a bright day. Although the cathedral itself is free to enter, there is a nominal charge to climb the towers. I would NOT recommend that those with a faint-heart or a perchant for clostraphobia attempt the climb as the passageways are very narrow and the stairs very steep. In short, whether you are of the religious persuasion or not (I am not), you will find that cathedral is an impressive building, both from the inside and out.

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              18.09.2001 21:02
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              Notre Dame must be one of the most famous churches in the world, and visiting it you can really see why. The church is situated on Ile De La Cite, in the heart of Paris on the Seine. The foundation stone was laid in 1163 beginning the long and illustrious history of this impressive Catholic church. Kings were crowned here, Joan of Arc was canonized here in 1920 and perhaps most famously of all Victor Hugo wrote about the church. The building itself is huge and imposing, with an incredible architectural design which is both intricate and solid looking. Entry to the church is free but you must be careful what you take photos of, never wear a hat, remain fairly silent and dress decently (this means covered shoulders for women). The silence is enforced by this weird guy saying shhhh through a speaker system every few minutes. You can pay 15 francs if you want access to the church 'treasures' but I didn't bother as it didn't look too interesting (priest outfits throughout the ages etc). The church is stunning from the outside but the inside is even more impressive. It features the biggest, most intricate stained glass windows I have ever seen, some of them really look beautiful. There are statues of various saints, especially Joan of Arc and of course Jesus and the Virgin Mary make an appearance. The atmosphere inside is solemn and there are many devout people who visit to pray or sit in silent rapture (creepy). The size of the place is unbelievable and that familiar church architecture drags your eye heavenwards to encourage contemplation of God. The church is still functioning, I was suprised to see a priest taking confessions and a queue building up outside his glass cubicle (the modern replacement for the old wooden confessionals). There is a large square infront of the church full of tourists. A great statue of Charlemagne with his big sword and beard ensemble sits to one side. Below ground there is the Crypt. Soun ds interesting and potentially scary but in fact it isn't really unless you like architecture or history. Entry to this is 26 francs for those between 26 and 60 and free outside of that group. The Crypt is in fact various models and remains of the site in different stages of history. The foundations on display date back to the Romans and there are a few snippets of history along the way, however it doesn't take long to walk around and probably isn't worth paying for. The church itself is unmissable and as it is free to wander around I would recommend it. It is always busy and you should be wary of pickpockets. It is all on one level so should be suitable for disabled visits, however the Crypt is down some steps.

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                20.03.2001 15:37

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                I went in when my French class went over to France for a week. I have to admit it looks great from the outside. All my classmates didn’t want to bother going in, as it "isn’t anything special!" That’s what they think!! As soon as you walk in you can see only darkness, the stained glass windows are dark, the walls are dark, and the whole place is dark. Soon, you eyes become accustomed to it, and it is wonderful. Everyone is walking around (watch out for the Americans, there are loads of them!!) and everyone is silent. However, there is a feeling in it, a loud, eventful, panicking feeling inside. I wasn’t planning to spend so long in there, but I ended up sat inside for about an hour, that’s how easy it is! I lit a candle, the only thing I had to pay for. There were some bits you had to pay for, but getting in is actually free.

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                12.07.2000 06:03
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                I love this place......in fact I've spent many happy and contemplative hours here.... If it's at all possible, go at a time when there are not so many tourists..I was living in Paris, so it wasn't a problem to me, and I visited again and again. Notre Dame is set on the Ile de la Cite......an island in the Seine. It has park to one side and it's well worth just sitting there for a while after wandering around the cathedral. I am a Christian so for me, Notre Dame is a spiritual place - not something I would say, however, about a lot of churches, especially those which are also tourist attractions. The Rose window is obviously the most famous part of Notre Dame's interior, but there are also numerous crucifixes in different styles, which are worth seeing whether you appreciate them from a spiritual viewpoint or as artwork. Should you want to light a candle to help pray for someone then there is the opportunity to do that (as in most Parisian churches) and this also makes for fantastic photos if that is more your thing. I think it would be difficult, unless you are simply part of a tourist group and do not allow yourself to enter into the spirit of the building, not to be touched by it. you may have the opportunity (depending on the time and length of your visit) to attend an organ recital here. It is certainly an experience worth having, but in my experience Parisians and those who *know* about organ recitals, tend to prefer St Sulpice. Get to an organ recital there, and you will never forget it. Notre Dame is beautiful. In a city full of art, this is somewhere you will still be impressed, and somewhere you may also find some kind of spiritual connection.

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                  30.06.2000 20:25
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                  If you want to go up the towers of Notre Dame (as opposed to just going inside the church), be prepared to get there early. The towers open at 9:30am but by then there is usually a queue. And it moves very slowly. They can only allow a limited number of people in the towers at any one time, plus there are people who can jump the queue because they have a museum pass. We got there about 9:30am and queued for an hour (this was the week before Easter). But by the time we got out (about 11:30), the queue for the tower looked as though it was 3-4 hours long. It was well worth it. The gargoyles are fascinating and you get some great views of Paris. It is also good for kids when they are of the age that prefer going up and down spiral staircases and looking out over parapets rather than staring at stained-glass windows.

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                ""Notre Dame de Paris (French for "Our Lady of Paris", meaning the church in Paris dedicated to the Virgin Mary), often known simply as Notre Dame in English, Gothic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in Paris, France, with its main entrance to the west. A major tourist destination, it is still used as a Roman Catholic cathedral and is the seat of the Archbishop of Paris. Notre Dame de Paris is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.""