The Notre Dame
The Notre Dame is beautiful, from its iconic towers and buttresses to its intricate carvings and stained glass.
It’s not going to be a completely spiritual experience, seeing the church. For one, there are just too many people. And, of course, someone has to pay for the church’s upkeep — that someone being, mostly, you and me, the tourists. Signs of the inevitable commercialization — at least when I was there — include a shop selling religious items and vending machines spitting out Notre Dame medallions for 2 euros.
But the experience is what you make of it. When I went back last year, I made it a point to catch a service. I didn’t get to hear a Mass, but I was lucky enough to attend vespers. (Side note: it was my first vespers, and although I’ve been a Catholic since forever, I’m still not actually sure what vespers is and what, if any, is the Filipino counterpart.) During the service, there was an elderly man, a local, who took it upon himself to reprimand — in hushed tones — any tourist silly enough to make too much noise or sit in the benches designated for actual churchgoers. I actually thought it was nice, that someone still cared.
Another good thing about the Notre Dame: it’s free.
- Location: Île de la Cité (one of the islands in the middle of the River Seine)
- Opening hours: 8:00 am to 6:45 pm (7:15 pm on Saturdays and Sundays)
- Admission: Free entrance to the church | 8,50 € to go up the towers
- For more information: Official Website (English) | Service Times