France: The Notre Dame Cathedral is a Forever Treasure of Paris

During my first trip in France, my husband took me to Notre Dame Cathedral which is located along the Seine River in Paris, in its heart actually: l’île de la Citée. It is an amazingly wonderful cathedral with excellent Gothic architecture and unfathomable history.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral from a distance

Notre Dame de Paris is also the scenery where the famous book from French writer Victor Hugo, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” takes place. I have heard that after the quite long climb on the steep steps, one does understand Victor Hugo’s feelings and writing about the place. The huge bells at the top of the towers of the Cathedral are rumored to be the beating heart of Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

We visited the cathedral on one beautiful afternoon. When we got in, it was dimly lit. We didn’t get a chance to go up the towers of Notre Dame because they were closed for maintenance, but I would imagine the view is stunning.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

While we were exploring inside, I saw so many holy artifacts and thought about 850 years of history which took place on this beautiful sacred ground. It also gave me a feeling of the strong power of the church. I saw plenty of things and I learned plenty of details and history. I would say, that it is a “must see” place for everyone whether you are a catholic or not since it contains an unbelievable scope of history of art, religious art as it is… to think that people built this cathedral without modern machinery! The front doors are especially impressive, with their rainbow of holy sculptures on top.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Absolutely, it is the most magnificent church I have ever seen. If you are in Paris, don’t miss this impressively spectacular Notre Dame Cathedral!

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France: The Stunning Eiffel Tower in Paris

This amazing tall iron tower is a stunner; that’s why it is one of the most famous landmark on earth. If you ask anyone about the first thing that pops in their mind about Paris – I’m pretty sure the answer would be the Eiffel Tower.

WOW! 🙂

It was built in 1889. It was known as the tallest building at the time since the pyramids. It stands 320 meters high and weighs 10,000 tonnes. Also, this was the first building in the world completely made out of iron.

emblematic structure

Tourists have the opportunity to explore the tower. The first two levels can be accessed by stairs or by a lift, but the third level and the top part can only be accessed by lift. If you wish to climb up the tower, tickets are available at the booth which is located at the base of the tower or you can also buy it online to avoid the long queue.

people everywhere

We visited the Eiffel Tower on one beautiful afternoon where we had a short picnic underneath it. We decided not to go up the tower, not because of the long queue but because I suffer from vertigo and I didn’t want to spoil the rest of my stay because of this. Instead, we had our snacks and some drinks while sitting on the grass and experiencing the beauty of this magnificently engineered structure.

striking

As we moved to various places in Paris and viewed the Eiffel tower from the distance was just like seeing a superstar from across the street. I am always delighted to see this well known structure which is 318 times taller than me. I would say that this majestic and climbable 124 year old structure lived up to and beyond my expectations.

so magnificent

How many huge buildings have you been owed by? 

France: The Magical Mont St Michel in Normandy

During my first visit in France, Alan brought me to one of the most magnificent places in the world. So, we traveled to the Northwest region of France called Normandy to visit the famous “Wonder of the West” called the Mont Saint Michel. It was built on the top of a rock between the 10th and 15th century. This Gothic-style structure is dedicated to the archangel St Michel.Image

The Mont St Michel is a unique natural site which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. It is also one of the French sites which have been filed as heirloom of the world, both from the perspective of nature and culture. No kidding there, you have to see the Mont St Michel to believe in the sheer impact of the experience. The pictures, as amazing as they are, don’t do justice to the feeling you get from experiencing the place.

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This extraordinary place is one of my favorite places among the places I have visited in France, maybe because of the constant presence of monastic life which gave me a different marvelous feeling about the place. It also seemed that every different mood has a corresponding space there; you can find a place in the Mont St Michel that corresponds perfectly to your mood of the moment. It does bring out the religious in you, not only for Catholics, it seems, because Celts and Bronze period tribes also had religious buildings there. The magic of the place, I guess.

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We went there by car from Bretagne, France, which we thought the easiest way to go there. It took us 4 hours to reach the Mont Saint Michel. When we arrived there, the queue for the entry for the car park was very long. The parking cost was 8.50 euro. While Alan was busy parking the car, my itchy feet couldn’t wait to get into that magical place. It’s really spectacular and I was overwhelmed the crowd of people from the entrance up to the top.

How to get in?

We paid around $2 each for the main entrance fee. There are two ways to take in order to see the whole place. One way (the one on the left side) is going to the city which is crowded by shops, restaurants and tourists. The other way (the one on the right side) is going on the top of the walls which has fewer tourists and no shops and restaurants so you can easily climb the steep incline that leads you to the top of the mountain. We used the walls since our first target was to reach the top and visit the abbey. On the way back, after we visited the monastery and the cathedral, we took the other way so we could visit the shops, restaurants and other stuff.

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The entrance fees for the monastery and cathedral:

If you can climb and wish to go the top part, you have to join the queue for the ticket which is at the entrance of the abbey. There, you can also buy some souvenir items such as gold plated coin, shirt, books, etc. We bought some gold plated coins with carved Mont Saint Michael on it since we couldn’t find it in the other shops at the village area. Pets are not allowed.

Tour around the abbey:

Self-guided tours and one-hour guided tours are available.  The rates are:

  • individuals:  Adult – €9;  18-25 years old – €5.5;
  • groups (minimum of 15) : €8

What to bring:

  • Make sure that you bring a bottle of water with you. It is essential so that you don’t get dehydrated as you climb. There are no shops on top; shops are only in the lower village area of the Mont St Michel
  • Put some sandwich or cookies in your backpack. You might get hungry as you climb. There are many places where you can sit and relax if you get tired while climbing on top.
  • You can also bring an umbrella with you. Sometimes the weather is unpredictable. Part of the charm of the place, I guess.
  • Don’t forget to bring your camera because of the marvelous architecture and of the many interesting art pieces scattered around the abbey.
  • No need to bring a map, just follow the crowd and be prepared to be amazed.

What to wear:

  • If you wish to visit the top, avoid wearing high heel shoes or high heel boots since you will do a lot of hard climb. Wearing sneakers is the best choice; it makes your tour more comfortable and easy.

Is Mont Saint Michael in your bucket list?