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To get to the entrance of the Tours de Notre Dame, the towers, exit the Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris, and turn right, going around the corner onto the Rue du Cloitre Notre Dame.

Be prepared to climb 387 steps up a winding, narrow stone staircase, hopefully wearing the right shoes. The climb is first rewarded by a visit to the bell tower, housing the 13-ton bell named Emmanuel. Louis XIV recast this bell in the 17th century, from the original, and the clapper itself weighs 1,100 pounds.

Next stop is the South Tower, with a view in all directions. Paris was born here, on the Ile de la Cite. It grew outward and up onto the hills of Monmartre. From the tower one can appreciate the legacy left behind by centuries of architects, artists and craftsmen. They loved their Paris, as we love ours.

Rue du Cloitre Notre Dame
4th Arrondisement
Metro: Cite
Hours: 10am to 6pm daily (7pm summer)

The architecture of Paris is remarkably charming when viewed from above. Rooftops are as interesting as facades. Dormer windows, skylights and terraces are punctuated by chimney tops. Slate and iron, stone and brick, yield to mullioned glass. The shuttered windows of Winter, with their flowerless window-boxes, are thrown wide open in summer and planted with red geraniums. From above it appears to be a city yearning for light, capturing it in every conceivable way. Maybe you already have a favorite vantage point, but there are many fabulous ways to get above it all.

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