Notre-Dame: An insider's guide
Sightsee like a local around Paris's world famous Gothic cathedral...
Paris's twin-towered lady, Notre-Dame, took 200-years to build, between 1163 and 1334. The west front remains a high point of Gothic art for the balanced proportions of its twin towers and rose window, and the Treasury contains ornate bishops' copes and reliquaries of Jesus's Crown of Thorns (which long sat in Sainte-Chapelle, see below).
Needless to say, Notre-Dame throngs with tourists all year round, but you don't need to cling to the crowds to find the best places to eat and drink nearby - or indeed visit other decent attractions. Follow this guide to find out where the locals go; and click here for more information on Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Unbeknown to most visitors, immediate respite from Notre-Dame's queues can be found in the forecourt in front of the cathedral, where the underground Crtpte Archéologique reveals the city's past
- 7 parvis Notre-Dame, 4e
You certainly won't avoid tourists at the Sainte-Chapelle or the Conciergerie (below; dual tickets can be bought for both), but it's worth grinning and bearing it for access to such breathtaking
- 6 boulevard du Palais, 1er
The Conciergerie looks every inch the forbidding medieval fortress. However, much of the façade was added in the 1850s, long after Marie-Antoinette, Danton and Robespierre had been imprisoned here.
- 2 boulevard du Palais, 1er
Crowd avoidance lies a ten-minute walk from Notre-Dame in the national museum of medieval art, best known for the beautiful, allegorical Lady and the Unicorn tapestry cycle. There is also a worthy
- 6 place Paul Painlevé, 5e
A ten-minute walk from Notre-Dame and you're in rue Mouffetard district, which seethes with Sorbonne students, college kids and tourists who pounce on anything beer-shaped after or between classes.
- 3 rue Thouin, 5e
For those bored of overpriced cafés and unfriendly waiters, the Moose is a great alternative. This Canadian sports bar serves a vast selection of beers and even some organic Australian wines. A
- 16 rue des Quatre Vents, 6e
This bistro facing St-Julien-le-Pauvre church is the creation of Nadège Varigny, who spent ten years working with Yves Camdeborde before opening a restaurant inspired by the food of her childhood in
- 10 rue Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, 5e
Celebrating 20 years in business, the tiny Abbey Bookshop is the domain of Canadian renaissance man Brian Spence, who organises weekend hikes as well as dressing up in doublet and hose for a spot of
- 29 rue de la Parcheminerie, 5e