Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris
Photo: atl10trader on Flickr
One of the greatest gothic buildings in the world
Noteworthy for: The cathedral was the inspiration behind Victor Hugo’s famous novel 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' (1831).
Talk of the town: In 'Amelie' (2001), the heroine's mother meets an unlucky end when someone attempting suicide lands on her from the cathedral's heights.
Word to the Wise: Beware of pickpockets, who sometimes swoop on visitors looking up at the facade or stained glass windows.
This mighty Gothic structure looming above the Ile de la Cite is a beautiful reminder of just how ancient Paris really is.
No small feat of construction, its first stone was laid back in 1163, taking almost 200 more years to build. It remains one of France’s most beautiful examples of Gothic art, with its twin towers, rows of saints and sculpted recesses.
Wandering through the stained glass interior is free (as are guided tours), but it's also worth paying extra to climb the tower ( though there are 387 steps and no lift). The route takes you up the north tower, along narrow passageways, into the world of fictional bell ringer Quasimodo. Spot the sinister chimeras and gargoyles (actually added during a 19th century restoration, but still amazing) as you ascend the south tower and don’t miss Emmanuel, the largest of four bells, weighing 13 tons.