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Notre Dame Cathedral

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The most famous, most widely visited and most easily recognized church in Paris and perhaps all of continental Europe is the Cathedral Notre Dame or in English, Notre Dame (Our Lady) Cathedral. Located on the Ile de la Cite (Island of the City), the Notre Dame is the main church of France and has been the scene of movies and famous novels for centuries, primarily because of its unique medieval architecture. Right in the centre of the city, the island is one of the most photographed and most culturally important areas of the world. This location is also considered to be the centre of France, although geographically, it is more in the mid northern section of the country. By standing on the ancient bridge known as Petit Pont that leads to Notre Dame, you can sense the feeling that you are literally in the heart of the city as you have sweeping views of the River Seine, the Notre Dame Cathedral, Sainte-Chapelle and the Palace of Justice.

As with any other important site in the City of Paris, there are Metro subway stops close by. The closest subway stop is on the RER Line at Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame, which is served by both the B and C RER lines. The highly recommended Musee d'Orsay is only one stop away from the Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame stop on the C Line so you could possibly see both sites on a single day. In fact that same C Line also serves the Invalides station, and Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel station, which is the closest Metro stop for the Eiffel Tower.

The crowds at the plaza in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral can be very large, particularly during the peak summer months. But aside, from the Eiffel Tower and the Lourve Museum, this might be the most important site to see in the city. There is no admission fee to enter the cathedral but you are encouraged to leave a nominal sum. Inside the church is the incredible stained glass that adorns the church, particularly with the famous rose window inside the main entranceway.

The church has regularly scheduled services 7 days a week and is worth visiting if your time permits. The church features the Great Organ, which has nearly 800 pipes and is still regularly used during Sunday services. The bells of Notre Dame are also used regularly and ring at the top of every hour. The famous fictional character, Quasimodo, better known as the "Hunchback of Notre Dame" was the bell ringer of Notre Dame in Victor Hugo's famous novel, which eventually became a classic American silent movie with the lead role made iconic by the American actor Lon Chaney.

Another attraction of the church is to visit the famous Gargoyles, which are actually rain gutters for the church. During the summer months you will see crowds of people queued to pay the nominal fee and walk up to the viewing area when the Gargoyles reside. The queues can be quite long, stretching all the way to the back of the church but if time permits, should not be missed as you not only are able to see the famous Gargoyles, you also have outstanding views of the Paris landscape.

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