A Private Tour of Notre Dame — An Exclusive Experience in Paris
Leah Walker December 6, 2018

Visit Paris with the intention of taking a tour, and you’ll likely be pulled in a multitude of directions. However, not all tours are the same, and many leave you with surface knowledge of some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. As a Parisienne, I’m invited weekly to take a multitude of tours. Unless it’s something unique, I normally decline, as I could literally take a different tour every day of the year. In the City of Light, there are roughly 83 million tourists each year. Thus, it pays to do your research and choose tours that stands above the rest.

Over the past year, I’ve been fortunate to become familiar with Secret Journeys, a tour company dedicated to offering the most knowledgeable, enlightening, and journalistic storytelling experiences. The tours are unlike any others I’ve taken in Paris–literally. The Secret Journeys portfolio is comprised of exclusive experiences that have been meticulously designed by the company’s founder through the cultivation of relationships, research, and passion. He even privatized Château de Versailles and the Eiffel Tower this year for Michelle Obama!

You might remember my Secret Journeys VIP experiences at the Bruno Seillier light shows of “Nuit aux Invalides” at Les Invalides in September and “Dame de Coeur” at Notre Dame in November. Both nights left me with my mouth agape and those that followed along on Instagram Stories amazed. From exclusive access to reserved seating to Champagne moments, those nights will be remembered for years to come. Thus, when I have an invitation from Secret Journeys, I clear my calendar.

A Private Tour of Notre Dame—An Exclusive Experience in Paris by Leah Walker
Credit: Chris Welsch

Private Tour of Notre Dame

In September, I received an invitation to experience the latest addition of the Secret Journeys portfolio–a private tour of Notre Dame. This would be a rare opportunity to experience one of the greatest Parisian landmarks — without any crowds.

A Private Tour of Notre Dame—An Exclusive Experience in Paris by Leah Walker
Credit: Léonard de Serres

An Exclusive Experience in Paris

The Cathedral of Notre Dame is Paris’ central landmark, and the private experience begins at 7 p.m., when the crowds have dispersed and the cathedral has closed for the day. This iconic symbol of Christianity has attracted worshipers from around the globe since the late 1100s, and few have had the chance to enter without another visitor in sight. After taking a moment to experience the beauty of silence in one of the world’s greatest cathedrals, you’ll hear the stories everyday tourists miss from Quentin Henric, our expert storyteller.

Quentin studied history at the Sorbonne and is passionate about Medieval and royal history. He’s worked part time for Notre Dame for two years giving tours of the cathedral throughout university. Having lived in Canada, Quentin is fluent in English, as well as Spanish and French {obviously}.

The experience centers around Viollet-le-Duc’s ambitious restoration of the cathedral between 1845 and 1864, one of its most fascinating historical chapters. Notre Dame is the result of work of thousands of people over 850 years, and it’s no wonder that Victor Hugo was inspired to make the cathedral’s Gothic architecture a central figure in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Quentin will explain the history of the building of the church, including its artworks and the world’s largest rose windows. The sun still shines through the original glass from the 13th century, and the marks of every French movement, from the Middle Ages to the Revolution and present day, are still seen. You’ll walk through locked doors, with Quentin holding the keys. He’ll lead you to up staircases that few people in the world have ascended. These are the places that Quasimodo surely roamed.

A Private Tour of Notre Dame—An Exclusive Experience in Paris by Leah Walker
Credit: Léonard de Serres

A Concert to Remember

At the start of this private tour of Notre Dame, you won’t hear the clicking of cameras or chattering tourists, but you may hear the sound of an organist or Medieval choir. That’s because they’ll be practicing for that night’s concert. You’ll meet the organizers of the concert while sipping Champagne in the gardens or a private room in the cathedral, and learn behind-the-scenes information about the night’s performance. After the private tour of Notre Dame, you’ll sit on the front row for an evening of music or depart. The experience is sold with or without a ticket to the concert.

Book with Secret Journeys

Secret Journeys encourages travelers to experience popular attractions, markets, and landmarks in ways they never could when simply following the guide books or wandering throughout the city. Those interested in visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral will never experience it as fully or as privately as on this Secret Journeys tour.

This Journey is made possible because of Musique Sacrée à Notre-Dame de Paris, which organizes the cathedral concerts and manages its music school and music research program. A portion of each ticket sale goes back to Musique Sacrée à Notre-Dame de Paris.

Go here to book your private tour of Notre Dame. Before booking, don’t forget to mention that you heard about Secret Journeys from me! Also, check out the rest of their portfolio for more unforgettable experiences.

A Private Tour of Notre Dame—An Exclusive Experience in Paris by Leah Walker

I make a small commission from bookings, with no additional cost to you. This helps keep me stocked in French wine, as well as a roof over my head.

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for three years, and was recently awarded another four with a Passeport Talent visa renewal. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.

9 Comments

  1. This tour sounds amazing! I love that the guide was so well versed in history and language. Things like that can make a huge difference in the visitor’s experience. It’s been awhile since I visited Notre Dame – thank you for transporting me back with your post!

  2. Oh wow! You got a private tour and there was a choir singing. Dam I am so jealous now. I have been inside (and done the climb to the top) but that was with all the tourists and I have to admit, I would prefer a private tour like you did. Do you rate this one of your top highlights in Paris (when it comes to experiences)?

  3. I’ve always been intrigued by Notre Dame since I was a child, but I’ve never got around to visiting. This tour looks like a fantastic way of seeing and learning about the cathedral. I’ll be making a note of this tour, in case I make it there in the near future.

  4. A private tour of Notre Dame? Woooow! I never knew it is even possible. I checked the website – it says watching a live concert and these paying guests can drink wine? Isn’t it Notre Dame is a sacred place? How come it is possible to drink a wine? Just curious. I mean I wanna try it but yeah just thinking out loud.

  5. Wow.. This does sound like an amazing way to learn more about Notre Dame. I love how the tour is private and it seems like your being serenaded by the Medieval Choir when you were there 🙂 As a catholic, it’s always a good experience to learn about Churches around the world 🙂

  6. We have been to Paris a lot. And visited Notre Dame on most visits. I had not heard of Secret Journeys before. It would be wonderful to visit Notre Dame with no crowds. So great to have a story teller as your guide. Lovely to have a private choir recital as you visit. Something we will definitely check out the next time we are in Paris.

  7. Notre Dame looks massive inside wow! A private tour seems appealing especially when it comes to really appreciating the beauty of the place without so many tourists. Plus, stories and history of the place that only a few knows? Now I am intrigued. I’ve been always fascinated about the architecture of Notre Dame. It would be a pleasure if I get the chance to know its history, its art and how it’s made from a really experienced guide.

  8. Firstly, I am going to be looking into Secret Journeys, they sound like my kind of tour company. I do love being able to get involved with exclusive kind of experiences.

    A private tour of Notre Dame, would of and looks like it was amazing.

    Champagne and choir while you visit. What a treat to be able to experience this. No crowds!

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