Cathédrale Notre-Dame Review
Even in the so-called “City of 100 Spires” the one crowning this cathedral stands out. Erected in 1876, it’s the highest in France—a cast-iron tour-de-force rising 490 feet above the crossing. The original 12th-century construction was replaced after a devastating fire in 1200; only the left-hand spire, the Tour St-Romain (St. Romanus Tower), survived the flames. Construction on the imposing 250-foot steeple on the right, known as the Tour de Beurre (Butter Tower), was begun in the 15th century and completed in the 17th, when a group of wealthy citizens donated large sums of money for the privilege of continuing to eat butter during Lent. Interior highlights include the 13th-century choir, with its pointed arcades; vibrant stained glass depicting the crucified Christ (restored after heavy damage during World War II); and massive stone columns topped by some intriguing carved faces. The first flight of the famous Escalier de la Librairie (Library Stairway), attributed to Guillaume Pontifs (also responsible for most of the 15th-century work seen in the cathedral), rises from a tiny balcony just to the left of the transept.