The only way to really grasp the magnificence of the Notre-Dame cathedral and towers and view it in its entirety is to catch a glimpse of it from a bridge across the Seine. The size and scope of this almost 800-year-old church are inspiring, the two towers stretching to reach the sky above the main entrance to the cathedral.
Bishop Maurice de Sully laid the first stone of the Notre-Dame in 1163. Age shows on the darkened stones of the Gothic structure, and the dimly lit interior of the cathedral speaks to the centuries the faithful have worshipped here. As you walk around the cathedral, purchase a guidebook to point out the highlights and their significance. The church organ here is one of the biggest in the world, with 113 stops and 7800 pipes. Rose windows in the cathedral show intricately designed stained glass. Carved wood panels created during the 14th century should not be missed.
Outside the cathedral, a line forms to enter the towers around the side of the building. After climbing 387 narrow, spiral steps, you'll be treated to a panoramic view of the city of Paris, the church's steeple and flying buttresses. The walk outside up here, gives you an up-close-and-personal view of the many gargoyles and assorted other creatures grimacing menacingly from their stone perches.
The belfry of the south tower leads up to the cathedral's largest bell, called Emmanuel, Ludovic, Marie-Thérèse. It weighs over 13 tons, plus the weight of the clapper - 500 kilograms, and the one-and -a-half ton beam. The bell was cast in the 17th century, and rings on important religious occasions.