Our 2.5-hour Notre Dame for Kids tour, set on the city island of Île de la Cité, is designed to stir the imagination of children and evoke the mysterious air of Gothic Paris. This tour, led by an art historian trained to work with children, will explore the gargoyles, stained glass, flying buttresses and other iconic architectural marvels in Paris from the city’s medieval and seemingly mythical past until today.
Why are the gargoyles so spooky? Why are they there? Was there really a hunchback of Notre Dame? Our young visitors will discover hidden architectural treasures, unravel history’s mysteries and gaze at the oddest Gothic features. As we explore the medieval maze of winding streets in the Latin Quarter we’ll discuss the birth of the Gothic and set the stage for our walk. We’ll start with the majestic Église Saint-Séverin, house of the oldest bell in Paris. Here, we’ll study the ribbed vaults and the church’s double aisles which will help us understand the interior of Notre Dame, our next stop. From the outside only, we’ll admire the splendor of our Lady of Paris and its gargoyle friends (due to a recent fire the interior of the Notre Dame Cathedral is not opened to the public). We’ll then move to Sainte-Chapelle, a masterpiece of Gothic art. Built to house holy relics, Sainte-Chapelle's extraordinary stained glass windows offer an excellent opportunity to learn how stained glass was made and what purpose it served in the Gothic era. Could the glass be telling a story? (Note: due to rules prohibiting group lectures in the upper part of the chapel, we will do most of our structured discussion of Sainte-Chapelle from the exterior before entering the interior spaces.) From here we’ll make a quick stop at the Conciergerie to visit the residence of France's early royal family that later became an infamous prison during the Revolution.
We will finish the tour with a visit to the magnificent Saint-Jacques Tower. Standing lost in the heart of Paris, the tower is one of the oddest Gothic belfries. What did it belong to? What do the sculptures of a lion, a bull, an eagle and a man represent?
As our walk comes to a close, our young participants will have gained the foundation for understanding the Gothic and, hopefully, the inspiration to continue exploring independently at home.
In addition to our family program tours (including offerings like our Louvre for Kids Tour and Versailles for Kids Tour, we may be able to adapt certain other tours to the needs of families, though please note such adaptations would not incorporate special activities. Please contact us for more details.
Does this tour include climbing the bell towers of Notre Dame and/or a visit of the interior? Will we be visiting the crypt as well?
Our tour does not include the towers or the interior of the Notre Dame cathedral. The Archeological crypt is not included in the tour either, but your expert guide can direct you to the ticket office following the tour.
Does this tour include climbing the Saint-Jacques Tower?
No! But your expert guide can help you purchase your ticket at the end of the tour if you'd like to climb the tour on your own.
Is this tour wheelchair accessible?
Notre Dame Cathedral and Sainte-Chapelle are wheelchair accessible, but the Conciergerie is not. Please contact us with any questions; we are also happy to design a private, customized tour for visitors with mobility concerns.
Where do we meet? Where does it end?
Generally speaking, the tour begins near Place Saint-Michel. Your confirmation email will have the exact meeting point details along with a map, and 24/7 phone number. The tour typically ends on the Ile de la Cité.
What if it’s raining?
Tours operate rain or shine, but in the case of inclement weather, your guide will modify the tour so more time is spent indoors. It never hurts to have an umbrella on hand.
Will you pre-purchase tickets?
Yes. If you've selected the tickets at the time of your booking we will purchase the combined Sainte-Chapelle+Conciergerie ticket in advance of your tour. Your guide will have them on hand. Please note that we don't visit the towers or the interior of Notre Dame, nor the Saint-Jacques Tower.
Can I use the Museum Pass?
Unfortunately, not. Tickets are mandatory and can't be canceled or modified. The Museum Pass is accepted at both the Sainte-Chapelle and Conciergerie but doesn't guarantee a skip-the-line access. Due to the long waiting lines at the Sainte Chapelle we need to use the E-ticket instead.