VIDEO: New virtual reality exhibition of Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral

Paris' Notre-Dame cathedral remains largely closed after the devastating fire that ripped through it in 2019, but now a new exhibition uses VR technology to allow people to discover the cathedral's history - from the 12th century to the present.

Notre-Dame cathedral is still undergoing renovation work.
Notre-Dame cathedral is still undergoing renovation work. But a new virtual reality exhibition will allow visitors to experience it in an entirely new way. (Credit: Orange Emissive)

The exhibition – opening on Saturday, January 15th – will allow people to engage with the site in an entirely new way: through virtual reality. 

For €30 visitors to the Espace Grande Arche de la Défense just outside of Paris can enter the exhibition space, put on a VR headset and experience some 800 years of history – from the 12th Century to the present day. This journey through time takes around 40-45 minutes. English-language narration is also provided. 

A new virtual reality exhibition tells the story of Notre Dame cathedral through key historical characters and events.

A new virtual reality exhibition tells the story of Notre Dame cathedral through key historical characters and events. (Credit: Orange/Emissive)

“Visitors will explore a digitally recreated Notre-Dame and live through a truly emotional journey through the secrets of the monument, all the while rediscovering the events and historical characters that marked its history,” according to the City of Paris

The trailer released by Amaclio Productions, one of the groups behind the virtual reality exhibition, is mind-blowing. 

Speaking to Le Parisien, the renowned French historian, Frank Ferrand, said the exhibition amounted to “a machine to travel back in time”. 

Five historians were consulted in the making of the project, which cost some  €4-5 million.

Around 30 percent of the income from ticket sales will go towards France’s public works budget, to help with the restoration of the cathedral. The organisers hope to attract 150,000 visitors this year.

The cathedral itself remains closed to almost all visitors while restoration works continue after the fire. It is hoped that the works will be finished by 2024. In the meantime, display boards outside the site show how the complicated restoration work is progressing.

Visitors experience the history of Notre Dame from the 12th century to the present day.

Visitors experience the history of Notre Dame from the 12th century to the present day. (Credit: Orange/Emissive)

There is also a free display at the site, where visitors can watch a 15-minute film about the renovation works and view a selection of photography. Various artefacts from the cathedral itself will also be on display. 

The exhibition will move to the Conciergerie, on Paris’ Ile de la Cité in the spring. In the Autumn, it will be moved again to the space underneath the large forecourt of the cathedral itself. 

There is a reduced ticket price of €20 per person for people under 18, students, unemployed people, those on RSA benefits, and people booking for a group of five or more people. 

You can buy tickets here or directly at the site. The group discount only applies to people who buy online. 

The exact address is: Espace Grande Arche de la Défense, 1 Parvis de la Défense, 92400 Puteaux.

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Paris public transport ticket prices set to rise in 2023

Public transport users in the Paris region may be facing higher prices for tickets and travel passes in the new year, as the region's transport network attempts to meet €950 million in additional costs for 2023.

Paris public transport ticket prices set to rise in 2023

Grappling with rising costs, local authorities for the Paris region are considering raising the price of tickets and the monthly Navigo pass for the capital’s public transport system.

These new fares would come into effect on January 1st, 2023 – although local authorities still have to approve the price rises, which will be put to the vote on December 7th, and the government may yet step in to shield commuters from the sharpest increases. 

According to information leaked to French media, the cost of a single ticket – currently set at €1.90 – could go up by 21 percent – reaching €2.30 in the new year. Paris runs an integrated public transport system which means that tickets can be used on the Metro, tram, bus or RER train services. 

Fans of the 10-ticket carnet could see prices go up to €20.30, a rise from €16.90 for paper ticket purchasers and from €14.90 for mobile phone app and Navigo easy users.

As for the Navigo pass – the monthly rail card – which will be the focus of daily transport users in the Ile-de-France, the region’s President Valérie Pécresse warned that it could jump from the current €75.20 per month to €90. 

Other travel passes are also predicted to see a rise – the weekly Navigo semaine from €22.80 to €31, and the Navigo annual from €827.20 to €990.

READ MORE: Food, fuel and transport: Which prices will rise in France in 2023?

The transport system is considering price rises because it faces €950 million in additional costs for 2023, as a result of energy rates rising and the fact that the transport system will begin owing payments to the French government on their “Covid loans” in the year 2023. 

While the increase in single ride fares to €2.30 could bring in an additional €500 million, the region’s transport operators would still be short by €450 million.

Possible outcomes

In order to avoid sharp increases to fares for passengers, there are three possible solutions that have been put forward by President of the Region, Valérie Pecresse. 

The first option would be a sort of fare shield. This would keep the price of a Navigo pass at €75.20 by relying on the State for various aids, such as transforming the region’s “Covid loans” of €2 billion into a subsidy, spreading out repayments between 2023 and 2036, and lowering the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 10 percent to 5.5 percent, which would bring in €150 million per year. So far these proposals have not been met with support.

The second possible solution would be a uniform increase of 7.5 percent from all contributing parties to the transport system, Île de France Mobilités (IDFM).

Currently, the IDFM is financed in 12 percent by the region, 38 percent by passengers, and 50 percent by contributions from private companies. If a 7.5 percent increase was applied across the board, the impact on passengers would be an increase in the Navigo pass to €80.80 euros per month.

And the third possibility, one that has been championed by Pécresse, would be to increase the contribution of companies in Paris and the inner suburbs to the ‘Mobility’ fund. However, this would have to be done by an amendment to the French government’s Finance Bill, and as of late November, parliament stood opposed to tax increases on these companies.

Without any of these solutions taking place, Pécresse has warned that users would have to withstand a 20 percent price increase, meaning a monthly Navigo pass costing between €90 to €100.

Pécresse has called this possibility “socially unbearable” and “anti-environmental.”

The Minister of Transport, Clément Beaune, told RMC on Monday that the ministry will to “everything to avoid an increase to the Navigo pass,” adding that discussions were still underway.

Meanwhile, the government spokesman, Olivier Véran, told France Inter that the government plans to “identify ways and means to avoid an increase as significant as that which has been cited” in discussions with the region.