To Go in Notre Dame or Not to Go in Notre Dame? My Answer

I just got back from Paris – and on this second trip, I made sure to make time to see the beautiful and historic “Our Lady of Paris” / Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral. (You’ve probably noticed I have a thing for historic churches.) Construction began in 1163 and finished in 1345 for this remarkable structure on the River Seine. This medieval Catholic church is widely considered one of the “finest examples of French Gothic architecture” in the world (thanks Wikipedia). It was epic and gorgeous and quite a beautiful sight.

After taking many photos of the detailed exterior, the question arose between ma coupine et moi – do we go inside or not? The line was long, it was hot outside, and we were due to head to the St. Ouen markets soon. Jokingly, I said “Well, once you’ve seen the inside of one historic Catholic church, you’ve seen them all.” But I figured, I came all this way, I might as well go inside. Let’s hope this isn’t underwhelming.

We walked the inside almost as a formality, and, drumroll please… I was officially underwhelmed. It’s dark AF, and it looks like every other medieval church I’ve been in. Other than the beautiful stained glass windows, here’s my take: it’s not worth it to enter Notre Dame.

Sacré Bleu! Did I really just say that? Yes, I did.

Go exploring on the inside IF a) you’ve never been inside a historic Catholic / European church, or b) you have fascination with and passion for gothic architecture. Or, okay fine – c) if you *really* like stained glass windows! You might like this view:


or d) If you love doors like I do, you might want to enter just so you can get close photos of those beautiful details! I love this one:


But if you’ve been inside any other big, historic European churches, I wouldn’t worry too much about going inside Notre Dame. In a rush? Chill, go see something else. Or go inside and prepare to be a little underwhelmed – it’s Catholic, it’s old, it’s quiet and it’s dark. In other words, you’ve seen a lot of this before. The arches from inside are aight tho… Something about this architecture style is always at least a little bit pretty. Case in point:

And if you’ve been inside La Sagrada Familia? Definitely don’t worry about the comparatively boring interior of Notre Dame.

I also hear the view from the top is pretty great – I didn’t have time to go up there on my last short trip to Paris. If you do, try it and lemme know how it goes.

But! Either way! Make sure you walk around the entire exterior. I didn’t see the spire and east side in person, and I wish I had – the photos I’ve seen of it are beautiful. So if you do stay outside, walk all the way around.

There, I just saved you time and energy. You can stay outside in the sunshine on your summer trip to Paris.  <3


Have you been inside Notre Dame cathedral? Do you agree / disagree with me about going inside? Let me know with a comment below!

Written By

Exenia is a professional singer, dancer, and travel blogger based in NYC. Her original EP, "5 Sides," can be found on iTunes or at Bandcamp. She has previously written for Brit + Co, and currently contributes dance-related content for West Coast Swing dancers at She lives an #EccentricLife of her own creative design, and seeks to inspire others to do the same. Follow her adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube @exeniamusic!

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