Paris, FranceAdmittedly, it’s an obsession when I travel: I always want to see a city from up high.

I love to get the feel for a place, understand the layout and geography. When I understand the blueprint of a city from high above, I start to feel more like a local than a tourist glued to her map to reach every destination.

Paris has so many great places where visitors can observe the city from a bird’s eye view and I have made it my personal quest to see most of them.

Paris, FranceBut the place I first visited as a child and which draws me back time and again is is the view from the bell tower of  Paris’ spectacular Notre Dame cathedral.

I’ve been to Paris a few times with my kids – but on their first visit to Paris, I immediately made a beeline to Notre Dame to share this special spot with them. We visited the cathedral and then exited to get in the line to climb up the towers.

They groaned when they saw the size of the line (inwardly, so did I), but I told them the story of Quasimodo the hunch-backed bell-ringer of Notre Dame as we waited.

Paris, FranceFinally we made it to the front of the line and made our way up the circular stone staircase. As we emerged out into the daylight, it made the wait more than worth it. The view over Paris is unrivalled from here and it is wonderful to be able to observe this lovely city among the whimsical gargoyles who have silently stood guard for centuries.

I’ll certainly be coming back to stand watch with my gargoyle friends as long as my legs will continue to carry me up there – who could ever grow bored gazing down lovingly on belle Paris?

For other tips about panoramic views from cathedral bell towers, see my earlier posts on climbing Geneva’s St. Pierre’s bell tower and Hamburg’s St. Michaelis tower. And see my earlier post on Paris.