If there is anything prettier than Paris in the spring, then please can someone let me know! The arrival of the new season spells the end of winter and (hopefully) more sun! Plus, with warmer weather and longer days comes the start of the spring flower season in the city. And one of the best places to spot spring blooms in Paris? The cherry blossoms at Notre Dame!
Editor’s note: Since the tragic fire at Notre Dame in April 2019, the Cathedral and its adjacent garden have been closed until further notice. Walking past recently, I noticed that many of the cherry blossom trees looked in bad shape and so it’s unclear as to whether or not they survived the fire.
Spotting Cherry Blossoms at Notre Dame
Go past the intricate façade of Notre Dame and walk straight over Paris Point Zero… but be careful or you might miss it. Head towards the left bank of the city and to your left, you’ll spot a little patch of green. That’s it, Square Jean XXIII, otherwise known as the best spot to see cherry blossoms at Notre Dame.
There’s a little sandbox towards the middle of the square and surrounding it you’ll find one of the largest concentration of cherry blossoms you’re likely to see anywhere in the city. Five or six of the pink things are dotted around. Fallen petals litter the floor like fallen confetti and there’s the drifting sound of far-off music in the background. Children play, parents look on and photographers snap photos: welcome to the heart of Paris.
Square Jean XXIII, Notre Dame
Formerly known as Square of the Archbishopric, the fairly large green space sits squarely in the centre of Île de la Cité. Square Jean XXIII is named after Pope John XVIII, who held the papal office in the mid-1900s. Once home to church staff, the area has been transformed into a garden which is a little haven and oasis of peace in an otherwise busy area. From here, you can now get up close with the iconic flying buttresses and catch a closer glimpse of the chevet.
Today, the closest metro stations are Cité and Saint-Michel. Head to the square early in the morning if you’re looking to get some photos with few people in. Open ’til late, the benches provide the perfect resting spot for a quick Parisian picnic, and there are sunflowers growing nearby come summertime. It’s also the perfect meeting point as from here much of the city is approachable by foot. From Square Jean XXIII, you can walk along the Seine, up to the Latin Quarter, or even North-East towards le Marais.