About a month ago, I spent a few days in Paris. I'd definitely say it's up there with my favourite places to visit, and no matter how many times I do so, there's always something new to do or see. Whilst we were there this time predominantly for touristing, and that did mean that I did a few things which I'd done before, visited things I'd already seen and showed off my favourite sights, I was also pleased to be able to experience some new places myself.
Near the top of our to-do list was to visit Notre Dame, as we had both seen it from the outside but never ventured through the doors. I did a little research before we visited in the hope that we could book advance tickets, since it always seems so busy out front, but to no avail. The cathedral itself is free to enter and open to the public almost all day (except for Sundays when they have church services and visitor numbers can be limited). You queue for security and bag checks, but after that are free to roam, with the option to pay to enter the treasury room (we didn't).
Since I'm not a religious person, I appreciated the building for it's architecture, but have to admit I was most interested in scaling the towers. Getting tickets for these is pretty straightforward, although they are only bookable on the day of visit. You have to either download an app, which holds your place in the queue and alerts you when you're 20mins away from your time-slot (these seem to be every ten minutes or so), or you fill in your details on one of the computer screens by the queue and choose a time slot. Again, this can text you to confirm you're next up, so you could go off and have a wander or find some breakfast (which is what we did whilst we waited). You can find more information about the tickets and process here.
Upon arriving at our time slot and making our way through security, we are led up into one of the towers and the first flight of stairs, where we wait in the ticket office / gift shop for the previous group to descend. This gives you time to buy tickets (and browse the shelves of tat should you so desire - I guess this is quite successful as they have a captive audience). I think we were there for about seven minutes in total. And then, more stairs.
When you come out onto the roof, the view is quite lovely. Yes, I know, another Paris-from-the-rooftops opportunity, and it probably seems as though that's all I ever seem to do in Paris. See things from above. But, it was really quite amazing to be able to see the towers and their amazing detail up close.
Of course, the gargoyles were my favourite thing*. I have to admit that I didn't know they were all different - I thought they'd all be the same figure. But their expressions and all of the different animals and characters were amazing - I took so many photos.
*In fact, I assumed they were all called gargoyles, but actually, I we learned that the statues which are there for purely ornamental purposes are in fact chimera (usually taking the form of mythical creatures or birds). The term gargoyle is actually referring to the ornamental drainage spouts which are designed to protect the walls of the building from being damaged by rainwater. (See the sticky-out bits on the corners of the tower in the photo below).
Honestly, whatever their proper name might be, I think they're incredible. And it's kind of inspired me to watch that Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I'd definitely recommend the towers as a place to see in Paris if you should find yourself there with a spare hour or so. Once you've climbed to the top, you're pretty much free to take things at your own pace - everything is caged in and we found it best to hang back a little as there were a lot of eager selfie-taking tourists in our group.