LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris review

21061 Notre-Dame de Paris attempts to solve one of LEGO Architecture’s most formidable challenges, and in doing so carves out its place as one of the theme’s most ambitious sets to date.

A highly detailed, impressively faithful recreation of one of France’s most iconic buildings with a high piece count and a relatively small footprint when constructed, 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris provides a lengthy, satisfying build in a package that won’t break the bank or take up too much space on the shelf.

And yet the real innovation within 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris is the way the building experience is approached in a historically accurate order, broken into four distinct time periods that stop the build from ever feeling too repetitive, while simultaneously teasing the builder with the prospect of learning more about the history of the iconic source material.

— LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris set details —

Theme: LEGO Architecture Set name: 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris Release: June 1, 2024


Price: £199.99 / $229.99 / €229.99 Pieces: 4,383 Minifigures: 0

LEGO: Order now

— Where to buy LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris —

LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris can be purchased from and official LEGO Stores from June 1, 2024, and will presumably also be available through third-party retailers after launch.

— LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris build —

Don’t be fooled by its appearance; LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris represents a bold departure for the LEGO Group. This set appears to fit perfectly within the existing Architecture theme and the wider collections of sets based on real-world buildings, but in truth, the designers have approached this with some new ideas that revolutionise the entire build experience.

Anyone taking even a casual glance at the set will be struck by its incredibly intricate design. The scale of the set, which vaguely lines up with LEGO Icons 10307 Eiffel Tower, has clearly been chosen deliberately. This is the largest set yet to appear in the LEGO Architecture theme in terms of piece count, but it’s not actually that big. The model’s longest dimension of 41cm means that it will probably not be the largest set on any avid collector’s shelf, even if it does tower over smaller Architecture builds.

In spite of its conservative size, 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris is made up of an impressive 4,383 pieces, making it one of the more complex builds in the LEGO Group’s current catalogue. This is a tremendously dense build, with lots of small pieces coming together in a small space to create an unprecedented level of detail on a set of this size. Flying buttresses, pillars, columns, gargoyles and windows are all rendered in intricate detail, so that even when viewed up close, it’s easy to forget that this build is even made of LEGO at all. No, not all of the details of the original Notre-Dame have been accurately translated into LEGO form, but at this scale it’s hard to imagine a way that this set could have been any more detailed in its design.

Architectural LEGO sets always make for excellent display pieces, but typically with some of the larger builds, the actual process of constructing these sets can end up feeling somewhat repetitive. 10276 Colosseum is an infamous offender, requiring the builder to repeat the same instructions over and over again to create the majestic curve of the iconic Roman landmark.

Notre-Dame has its moments of repetition, but given just how many identical details need to be constructed, it never feels quite as egregious as in some other architecture-inspired sets. Towards the end, some of the repeated details can become a little tiresome, but the LEGO Group has stumbled across an impressive way of keeping this from feeling overwhelming throughout the bulk of the build.

21061 Notre-Dame de Paris is not constructed in the same way as most sets. Instead of building a base layer and then adding each additional layer on top, culminating with the roof, the manual takes builders on a journey through the different eras of the actual cathedral’s construction.

The build is split into four separate time periods from real history: 1163 to 1182, 1182 to 1200, 1200 to 1225 and 1225 to 1786. Each of these chunks of the build takes around two hours to complete, as the set is put together in the same order that the real Notre-Dame was constructed. This is an absolutely genius move that not only provides a fascinating insight into the building’s history, but also serves to provide natural breaks in what would otherwise feel like an overwhelmingly repetitive build experience.

First, just as it was built in real life, you’ll put together the entirety of the eastern side of the building – the intricate floor tiles, the walls, windows, pillars, flying buttresses and roof. Only once this section is entirely finished does the build move on to add the rest of the floor tiles, walls, windows, pillars, flying buttresses, two front towers, and the roof of the rest of the build.

In historical terms this provides the builder a tiny glimpse into the process by which the real Notre-Dame was constructed over several decades. In practical terms it means that, instead of placing all the floor tiles and windows at the same time, the process is broken up and no one detail of the cathedral ever feels overwhelming.

If there’s one area where this historical accuracy disappoints, it’s in the amount of historical context that the manual provides for each step of the process. There’s a paragraph or two to explain each separate time period in the cathedral’s construction, and every so often a particular detail will be highlighted with a sentence explaining, for example, how the floor tiles were laid or why a certain alcove’s detail is significant, but beyond this, the manual doesn’t provide a lot of detail. You may feel teased by these snippets of historical detail, but the expectation appears to be that, once this appetite has been whetted, LEGO fans will do their homework and visit a library (or a Wikipedia page) to learn more under their own steam.

To a certain extent, it feels like the set expects us to approach 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris with supplementary materials at hand, such as history books or documentaries on the real building, and to that end the podcast-style audio recordings that accompany the LEGO Art theme might have also been helpful here. It would be nice to listen to a historical expert describing all of the details in the build during the process of putting the set together.

History is first and foremost in the thinking behind the set, so it’s a shame that this side of the presentation feels a little shallow. For many LEGO fans, the fact that this particular building has been attempted in LEGO form has come as something of a surprise given the company’s longstanding aversion to adapting religious icons. According to set designer Rok Žgalin Kobe, given the cathedral’s many uses across its history, its weathering of the French revolution and its occasional scrapes with the threat of demolition, the LEGO Group has decided that Notre-Dame is far more than simply a Catholic building.

Certainly this comes across in the finished set. There are no crucifixes or overt Christian symbols on display here; no statues of Saints or angels (aside from the Apostles on the roof), nor anything that might cause controversy. There would have potentially been the option to use more nanofigures to provide these details, and for those who are familiar with the cathedral, they may feel a little conspicuous by their absence.

It’s also worth noting just how crucial it is to savour the building process, because once the set is complete, it’s not easy to actually look into the build and admire some of the little touches on 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris’s interior. The roof comes off so that some of the details of the floor tiles can be seen, but with support struts and beams in the way, it’s still not easy to actually look inside. Otherwise, it’s possible to squint through the open doors at the front of the build, but things are hardly hugely visible. The set might have benefited from a cross-sectional approach similar to that of LEGO Icons 10294 Titanic, allowing fans to open the build up to get a better look inside. This, though, likely would have compromised some of the set’s adherence to historical accuracy.

To critique the LEGO Notre-Dame too harshly, though, is to miss the wood for the trees. Yes, there are small details that feel absent; yes, the build does eventually start to feel a bit monotonous towards the end (especially when adding a few finishing touches that come right at the conclusion of the build); and no, there’s not quite as much context provided as some history buffs might like.

But these minor quibbles aside, 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris is quite possibly the best LEGO realisation of a piece of real-world architecture to date. The decision to adapt this building at this scale, with many smaller elements, means that this is a detailed, satisfying if somewhat fiddly building experience, with a relatively low price tag and that – crucially – doesn’t take up too much space on the shelf.

This is perhaps the best thing about 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris once the build is actually complete: it looks gorgeous, it makes a wonderful display piece, and in spite of its complexity, it’s small enough that it doesn’t require a dedicated display space. That’s something that cannot be said for certain other LEGO recreations of European landmarks that will remain nameless.

— LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris characters —

Fun fact: Notre-Dame literally means ‘Our Lady’ in French. This is significant when considering the characters featured in this set. It’s also worth noting that Victor Hugo’s seminal literary work, entitled The Hunchback of Notre Dame in English, is simply titled Notre-Dame de Paris in French.

No, there are no minifigures in this build, but there certainly are characters. Notre-Dame itself (herself?) is and has always been anthropomorphised in the French public consciousness. This building is a character, and its construction represents a story arc that runs through the building of this set.

If that all sounds a little too pretentious, there are other, more practical characters in the set, which fans of the source material should bear in mind. Many of the gargoyles that adorn the real Notre-Dame’s flying buttresses are represented here by slightly more abstract elements, which is one limitation of the set’s scale. It simply wouldn’t be possible to render accurate portrayals of these carvings in LEGO form, and it’s an element of 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris that lacks the spectacular detail that would be seen on the real building.

Atop the roof there are some more detailed facsimiles: a dozen nanofigures are used to portray statues of the Twelve Apostles that can be seen on the roof of the real building. Putting these on the top of the build is one of the final steps in the manual, and the builder is instructed to angle one facing inwards.

This statue is meant to represent architect Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. While the rest of the Twelve Apostles look out over Paris, this statue instead looks to Notre-Dame itself in appreciation of the building. This is a nice touch that caps off the build and reminds us that Notre-Dame was made by real people who lived across a period of 900 years (longer if you also consider the ongoing renovation work).

— LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris price —

Priced at £199.99 in the UK, €229.99 in the EU and $229.99 in the US, and containing 4,383 elements, in terms of cost per piece LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris is one of the best deals in the current LEGO catalogue.

There is a good reason for this: each individual element in 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris is on the smaller side, and even the base is constructed of relatively small baseplates rather than larger elements. As such, pound for pound there’s less actual plastic in this set than most LEGO sets with over 4,000 elements, but in practice, this simply means a set with a lengthy, satisfying build time without the higher price tag that more complex sets usually require.

— LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris pictures —

— LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris pros and cons —

LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris is highly detailed, impressively faithful to its source material, and the build process is broken up wonderfully to provide historical context and avoid a feeling of constant repetition.

While the set may be a bit fiddly in places and it’s not easy to look inside at all of its details once constructed, this is one of the most beautiful and interesting LEGO sets based on real-world architecture to date.

21061 Notre-Dame de Paris pros21061 Notre-Dame de Paris cons
Beautifully detailed and historically accurate setSmall elements can be a bit fiddly
Low price point and small size for its piece countDifficult to look inside once completed
Building experience is broken up to avoid repetitionNot quite enough historical context in the manual

This set was provided for review by the LEGO Group.

Support the work that Brick Fanatics does by purchasing your LEGO through one of our affiliate links.

— Alternatives to LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris —

Those looking for an alternative to 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris may wish to consider 21060 Himeji Castle, which has a similar footprint but a smaller piece count. Alternatively, LEGO Icons 10307 Eiffel Tower is another popular Parisian landmark, but it is a significantly larger set that will take a lot longer to build – and require a lot more of your wallet.

— LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris FAQs —

How long does it take to build LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris?

LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris takes around eight hours to build. The process is split into four distinct sections which take around two hours each.

How many pieces are in LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris?

LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris contains 4,383 pieces. These elements are all on the smaller side, making for an intricate build that doesn’t take up much space.

How big is LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris?

LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris is 33cm tall, 22cm wide and 41cm deep. Much of this height is in its spire.

How much does LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris cost?

LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris costs £199.99 in the United Kingdom,  €229.99 in the EU and $229.99 in the US. This is a relatively low price for a set with this many pieces.

Author Profile

Matthew Loffhagen
Matthew Loffhagen
When I was a kid, my bus ride home from school featured a daily stop at LEGOLAND Windsor. The bus drove all the way up to the front gate, let eager tourists on and off, then drove back out of the park and on its merry way. Maybe if I’d got on a different bus every afternoon I’d have ended up with a proper job, but then, there’s no way of knowing for sure.

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Matthew Loffhagen

When I was a kid, my bus ride home from school featured a daily stop at LEGOLAND Windsor. The bus drove all the way up to the front gate, let eager tourists on and off, then drove back out of the park and on its merry way. Maybe if I’d got on a different bus every afternoon I’d have ended up with a proper job, but then, there’s no way of knowing for sure.

One thought on “LEGO Architecture 21061 Notre-Dame de Paris review

  • 09/05/2024 at 09:55

    Do you set fire to it once completed?


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