France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Notre-Dame Cathedral, Laon, France
This beautiful early Gothic cathedral dominates the hilltop town of Laon.

Rose window, Laon cathedral, France
Rose window, Notre-Dame.




The Cathedral of Notre-Dame sits on top fo the Montagne Couronée or "Crowned Mountain" of Laon. From this hilltop there are gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside.

The cathedral dates from the 12th and 13th centuries—even older than Notre-Dame de Paris! Even more remarkable, it was largely built in just 30 years, from 1150 to 1180. Other parts were built in the 13th century.

Entering the cathedral, you are immediately hit with how tall and bright it is. The nave is both long and high, and the fact that the interior is of white stone makes it much brighter and lighter than most Gothic cathedrals.

Laon Cathedral, France
Notre-Dame interior, bright and light!

Notre-Dame is also known for its beautiful Gothic rose window, which dates to 1210. Other stained glass also dates from the 13th century, and remarkably was not damaged during the world wars.

The exterior has five beautiful towers, though seven were oirginally planned. Since the middle ages, the beauty and harmony of the towers have been often praised.

The towers are best known for their sculptures of animals, and in particular for the carved oxen. Legend has it that when the cathedral was being built, the oxen struggled while taking heavy loads of stone up the steep hill, and additional oxen appeared mysteriously to help carry the stones.

The Tourist Information Office can arrange for guided visits up the towers, and the visits also give you access to the upper interior spaces.

I have climbed up quite a few medieval towers in France and elsewhere, and I can say that parts of the spiral staircase in the Laon cathedral were the narrowest I've ever seen! Just a heads up to be aware of this; don't bring anything large with you and be prepared to be cozy! The view at the top is quite splendid, but obviously the ascent isn't for everyone.

Laon, France
View from the top of the towers of the Cathedral Notre-Dame.

Some people compare Laon's Notre-Dame to the Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis, just north of Paris, which predates Laon by about 50 years and is considered the first Gothic cathedral.

About Laon

What to See & Do in Laon

Laon Tourist Information

Laon Hotels

Laon Transportation

Northern France



World War I sites




Laon Cathedral, france

Above, Front view of Notre-Dame Cathedral, Laon.

Below, The famous carved oxen on one of the towers.

Laon Cathedral, France





FTP on Facebook    
Pinterest    Twitter