Secrets of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris has been widely referred to being one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. Both the outside and inside is beautiful, with large stained glass windows, Gothic art, statues, and a treasury.

When I first visited Notre-Dame in 2012, I did not realize that there was a special tour that went up into the bell towers. The doorway is on the northeast side (to the left around the corner from the main entry), which take you up spiraling stairs all the way up to the top. You're given the opportunity to see some of the best views of Paris, including the gargoyles all along the cathedral, and a stop in the very top to see the church bells.

Tours begin at 10 AM; however, by that point, the line is normally very long and sometimes stretch around the cathedral. So you can either arrive very early and wait in line for a couple hours, or you can use an app to reserve your spot in line and be one of the first to go up.

In the Google Play store or Apple Store, search for DuckTheLine (or Jefile, as it was originally called). This app will let you reserve your spot in line and the time you choose. It allows you to start reserving beginning at 7:30 AM, and must be done on the day of visiting. If you don’t have a Paris Museum Pass, the cost will 10€, which you can use either cash or credit card to purchase. Enjoy!


Secrets of the Vatican

The Vatican City, the seat of the Roman Catholic church, is the world’s smallest independent nation-state. Famous baroque artwork, statues and sculptures, within the Sistine Chapel, Vatican museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, and St. Peter’s Square are just a few of the sights to behold here.

What you may not have known is that underneath the Vatican lies the Vatican Necropolis, a complex of pagan mausoleums, and the tomb of the apostle, Saint Peter. You can actually visit these tunnels, the Necropolis, and see St. Peter’s Tomb on a guided tour; however, only 250 people are allowed to enter per day. You must obtain permission from the excavations office before you can enter, must be flexible, as there are many days that tours aren’t given, and photography is strictly not allowed.

What do you gain from this tour? An incredible hour and a half tour of archaeological finds, excavations, mausoleums, tombs, and artifacts, which ends at the burial place of St. Peter, including what are believed to be his bones.

For further information on reservations, click the excavations source link at the bottom of this post.

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City


Secrets of the Louvre

The iconic glass pyramid is the main entrance to the Louvre. For a first time visitor, you'll definitely want to see it, and walk around it. If the line is short, you may want to enter this way. However, lines have been known to take up to two hours to get in. Did you know that there are secret entrances into the Louvre? These secret entrances can cut a two hour wait down to a five minute wait.

The entrances

  • Pyramide du Louvre: Main entrance

  • Palais Royal Musee du Louvre: This entrance goes through the mall to the inverted pyramid.

  • Porte des Lions: As of June 2018, this is opened back up to regular ticket holders.

  • Passage Richeliue: This is for tour groups only, or those who have annual memberships. 

  • Carrousel: You can re-enter at this location if you already have a ticket, and it's also a quick way to exit. The stairs come up next to the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.