Ringing the bells for fact and fiction

Notre Dame de Paris (“Our lady of Paris”) is one of the city’s oldest buildings – and one of the most famous cathedrals in the world.

With its enchanting location on the Île de la Cité– a natural island in the centre of the Seine – its grounds are the ideal place to pause for a picnic while you wait to hear the famous bells. Our Paris bus tour drops you as close as you can get on 4 wheels – just over a footbridge.

History of Notre Dame

Notre Dame is a Catholic Cathedral and the official seat of the Archbishop of Paris.

Building began in 1163 and took an incredible 185 years to complete. Over this time, various architects were involved – which is why there are different styles of architecture at different heights. But it’s still one of Europe’s finest examples of Gothic architecture.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The cathedral and its bells gained global fame in Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel (and the subsequent film adaptations) ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’. The largest bell is in the South tower and weighs an incredible 13 tonnes.

Other interesting facts about the Notre Dame de Paris

  • Outside the main entrance is a plaque marking ‘kilometre zero’ – the official centre of Paris, from which all distances in France are measured
  • Notre Dame’s site has been a religious centre for centuries, since the Romans built a temple to Jupiter
  • The rose windows have a diameter of 10 meters (32 feet)
  • Three of Christendom’s sacred artefacts are stored here – including the Crown of Thorns