Tips for Visiting Paris Part 1: Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle

The Mister and I recently celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, we took a took a trip to Paris for five days and had an incredible time. I wanted to share some of my favorite pics, as well as a few tips for visiting.

General Tips

  • August is the month when many Parisians go on vacation. Some restaurants will be closed (whether or not their website says so).
  • They go on vacation because it is HOT. The entire trip, it was around 95 degrees every day. To help us beat the heat, we got up around 7 AM each day to go see outdoor things, got lunch around noon, then took a nap back in our air-conditioned hotel room for a couple of hours before going back out for round 2.
  • Museums are usually air-conditioned, so are a great place to go in the afternoon when it’s the hottest.
  • Charcuterie may sound intimidating, but it is actually just a name for fancy cold cuts and cheese. It’s a great meal, especially with a salad and especially in the heat.
  • Two words: ice cream.

Notre-Dame

I had visited Paris before, but the last time Notre-Dame was closed for a special holiday service. This time, I got a chance to go inside, as well as wander around the lovely riverside garden.

Tips for visiting Notre Dame

  • The main building opens at 7:45 AM. By 9:30 AM, the line is crazy long. If you want to have a nice, uncrowded experience, go in right away when it opens.
  • The tower, on the other hand, doesn’t open until 10 AM. You can stand in the crazy line, but better yet, download the Duck the Line app and reserve your stop.

Sainte-Chapelle

On the same charming little island as Notre Dame, you can find the stunning chapel of Saint Chapelle. The stained glass of the Dame is awesome, but here, you are completely surrounded by glass and you are much closer. This used to be the home of the “real” crown of thorns worn by Jesus on the cross. French kings used to break of thorns and give them as gifts to visiting diplomats. The relic was moved to Notre Dame, and can now be seen once a month, but the glass and stunning statues are still well worth the visit.

Tips for visiting Sainte-Chapelle

  • They have even more strict security measures than an airport. No silverware, even plastic, is allowed inside. They won’t hold things for you either, so make sure you have your bags clear of anything sharp before you try to go in.
  • Even though the chapel itself is enclosed by buildings, the glass is stunning in the mid-morning sunshine.
  • There’s a pedestrian area right across from the exit. One of the iconic arte nouveau Metro station signs is located there, along with a permanent stretch of greenhouses.

There’s plenty more to share, but that’s enough for one post. See you next Tuesday for more pics and tips.

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