France Insider Travel: Experience Cathedral Night at Notre-Dame de Paris

Paris is always a great idea, indeed! While there’s always something happening in France’s capital, the events not to be missed are small(er) happenings for locals by locals.

The annual Cathedral Night event aka Nuit des Cathédrales is one such magical offering: In 2023, volunteers of Notre-Dame’s CASA chapter offer special guided visits that evening to the surrounding areas of the iconic Parisian cathedral.

Saturday, May 13, 2023 is a night out in Paris not to be missed: for art history buffs, architecture fans, but also anyone seeking to join an experience that’s not for tourists.

The free guided tours that focus on history, architecture, but also the spirituality of Notre-Dame de Paris start at 6 pm and are offered both in French and English. Departures are every 30 minutes and until 9 pm. CASA volunteers should be easy to spot, but it will be a busy night at the Parvis Notre-Dame right in front of the cathedral.

For more information on the Nuit des Cathédrals and events in other French cities, take a look here. It’s important to know that Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral is not usually part of this mainly French event.

Famous Landmark in the Heart of Paris: Notre-Dame de Paris

The medieval cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris located in the heart of Paris, France is one of the most famous landmarks of the city — and one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. Construction of the cathedral began in 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII and was completed in 1345. The cathedral was built on the site of an earlier church that dated back to the 4th century. Over the centuries, Notre-Dame de Paris has played a significant role in French history. It was the site of many important events, including the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804 and the liberation of Paris in 1944.

The cathedral has also been the subject of many artistic works, including Victor Hugo’s novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame,” which was published in 1831. In the 19th century, the cathedral underwent a major restoration led by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, who added many new features to the building.

In April 2019, when a fire broke out at Notre-Dame de Paris, significant damage was caused to the cathedral. Restoration work is currently still underway — a complex and extensive project. The timeline for completion is still uncertain. The initial estimate provided by French President Emmanuel Macron was to complete the work within five years: by 2024, ideally in time for the Summer Olympics happening in Paris then. However, due to many factors, the restoration is now expected to take longer. As of May 2023, the French government has not provided a new timeline for the completion of the restoration work.

If you’d like to stay up to date, this is the official IG account for Notre-Dame de Paris. More in-depth information is shared via Facebook by Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, and you’ll get to practice your French, too.

Nuit des Cathédrales – An Event Not to be Missed

Can’t make it yourself, but would like to see what it’s like? Follow our team via @europeinsiders on Instagram. We’ll be reporting live from the Cathedral Night in Paris on May 13, 2023.

Coincidentally, we’re welcoming a very special group from Harvard University together with SVP Tours that very day to France for an in-depth study tour centered around Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral.
What better welcome to Paris and France for these 20+ history students and their professor than seeing the City of Lights and beloved Cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-Paris close up — with the locals, like a local. Bienvenue!

Ways to Support Notre-Dame de Paris

Looking for unique souvenirs or would you like to contribute to the renovation of Paris’ iconic cathedral?

You can support the restoration efforts of Notre-Dame-de-Paris directly by making a donation to the Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris here, or how about giving a little something by “faire un don” to the volunteers of CASA. Here’s the direct link to the ‘Boutique de la Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris’ aka the online shop.

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