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When will Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral reopen to visitors?

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AFP/The Local France - [email protected]
When will Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral reopen to visitors?
A photo taken in April 2024 of a worker restoring a balustrade inside Paris Notre-Dame cathedral. (Photo by Mathilde BELLENGER / AFP)

Monday marked the fifth anniversary of the Notre-Dame fire, and after years of reconstruction work, the landmark is getting ready to reopen to visitors later this year. Here is what you need to know if you want to visit.

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What is the current situation of Notre-Dame Cathedral?

Reconstruction work is currently ongoing, but the spire, which dramatically collapsed five years ago, finally became visible again on the Paris skyline after its scaffolding was removed in March.

The installation of the lead roof is ongoing on the cathedral's solid oak frame, which was being rebuilt according to techniques dating back hundreds of years.

"The restoration will last for at least 860 years," Philippe Jost, who heads the public body overseeing the project told AFP in March, referring to how long the cathedral had survived from its initial completion in 1163.

In addition to sprinkler systems, each section of the wooden frame has been "compartmentalised" to prevent any future fire from spreading, Jost said.

When will Notre-Dame reopen?

The Cathedral is on track to re-open on time on December 8th - the Festival of the Immaculate Conception - the head of the reconstruction told the French Senate in March.

"We are meeting deadlines and budget," Jost told a French Senate committee, praising the work of the 250 companies and artist groups involved in the reconstruction, which began in spring 2022 after rubble had been cleared.

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What can I do in the meantime?

You can still walk around the site and read the posters explaining the restoration process, though you will not be able to enter. Photos of the fire-damaged cathedral and its restoration form an exhibition on the barriers keeping people out of the site.

Guided tours exist in the area, including one offered by Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral and CASA volunteers. These tours are free and they go around the cathedral, lasting about one hour. More info for booking here.

There is also visit the crypt under Notre-Dame, which allows you to discover the foundations of the building, models, as well as other archeological findings. Tickets cost €9 and can be purchased here.

For those missing visits to the cathedral, you can enjoy a virtual reality visit during the restoration.

The virtual experience, called "Eternal Notre-Dame," takes visitors through more than 850 years of Notre-Dame's history.

It is available at two locations: at Notre-Dame, under the square, and in La Défense at the Cité de l'Histoire.

Full-price tickets cost €30.99, and reduced price tickets are €20.99. A portion of that price will be donated to the monument's restoration. You can find out more HERE.

What about other work?

There will still be other projects in the coming years, even after the initial restoration allowing visitors to enter the cathedral has been completed.

Starting in 2025, the cathedral's stone exterior will begin to be refurbished, using surplus funds from the huge pot of donations that poured in after the fire.

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On top of that, the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, announced in 2022 that work would begin to revitalise the landscape surrounding the monument after the end of the Paris Olympic Games. It will run from the second half of 2024 and will be completed in 2027, according to the town hall website.

The plans include adding trees and vegetation to the square in front of the cathedral, as well as a small stream that will help to cool the area during hot weather. 

The space behind the cathedral will also be transformed, adding in a lawn and grassy area. Under the monument, the underground parking lot will transform into a visitor centre, offering an interior walkway that will give access to the archaeological crypt and will open up onto the Seine.

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