Virtual tour, photos, 3D model… If it does not replace the original, it is still possible to walk around the cathedral. Luisa Ricciarini/Leemage
Neither the fire two years ago, nor the closure of the building does not diminish the aura of the cathedral and the passion it has on the world. To revive the memory, Le Figaro offers a selection of tours and interactive experiences.
With 13 million visitors per year, the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral was the most visited historical monument on the Old Continent. Proof of the international attachment to the building, the terrible fire of April 15, 2019 had raised an unprecedented surge of generosity around the world. Since then, the surroundings of the sacred site have attracted thousands of curious people, who have come to collect themselves and see the damage of the flames with their own eyes.
Two years and three confinements after the tragedy, public interest in this architectural gem continues unabated. Numerous projects of exhibitions of the surviving works should see the light of day after the pandemic, while the European Days of the Crafts recently honored the cathedral, by proposing a visit of the “building site of the century” online. A way to digitally cross the closed doors of the place far from being isolated. Without waiting for the end of the work, which will not happen for several years, Le Figaro offers several solutions to discover the monument and its masterpieces.
A tribute from every angle
The day after the disaster, the Forum des Images, in partnership with TV5 Monde, published a video of the interior of Notre-Dame, recorded a few days earlier. The images captured by drone offer a 360° view of the building. From the square to the high gargoyles, the whole monument becomes accessible in a few clicks. To take full advantage of the panoramas and to walk through the image, it is recommended to pause the player regularly. Another initiative of the American foundation Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris allows Internet users to visit the holy place on the model of Google Street View.
Pros: Certainly the most qualitative and least expensive way to enjoy the religious building in all its splendor.
The minuses : Unless you are very keen, you have to keep hammering the “pause” button to have time to fully enjoy the 360° view. To be avoided on smartphone.
To the sound of Jean-Michel Jarre
If there is a French musician capable of occupying such a mythical place for the duration of a show, it is him. At 72 years old, the pioneer of electronic music put his synthesizers in the middle of the cathedral’s nave for New Year’s Eve. At least the avatar of Jean-Michel Jarre. The building, entirely digitized for the occasion, had begun to shine with a thousand lights in front of 75 million spectators scattered around the world and came to celebrate the passage to the new year 2021 to the sound of the composer of Oxygene. The replay of this concert is now available on YouTube.
The plus : A beautiful way to appreciate the cathedral under a new light. The digital stone merges here with a spectacular light show, magnified by the epic soundtrack of the composer.
Minus: Avoid if you are allergic to electronic music.
A look at the artworks
In addition to its architectural jewel quality, the cathedral, completed in 1345, contains many historical works. If you can’t enjoy this treasure in person, the Notre-Dame de Paris website allows you to view photos of the paintings, sculptures and relics of the building online. For your convenience, they are displayed on an interactive map of the nave. In addition, Paris Musées offers a long file entitled Notre-Dame de Paris in more than 100 works. It includes many artistic creations, reproductions and other prints related to the history of the monument.
The pluses: An interesting tool for Internet users who have already seen Notre-Dame before the fire and wish to refresh their memory or those who wish to discover the richness of the cultural heritage that the cathedral houses in normal times.
The minuses: An immersive side close to zero due to the lack of photos proposed by works.
Virtual tour in augmented reality
“The only possible visit of Notre-Dame since the fire”, argues the website of FlyView. This Parisian company specializing in augmented reality offers the curious to visit the cathedral in immersion while remaining in an armchair in their studio. Thanks to images captured in 360 degrees before the destruction of the spire and others recorded after the devastation of the flames, the viewer, helmet screwed on his head, can enjoy a before=after unique in its kind. An experience that allows to “relive the soul and the memory of the cathedral” and to take “the measure of the disaster, and of the work that remains to be done to “save” Notre-Dame”, promises the structure, already recognized for its visit of Paris from the sky.
The pluses: The opportunity to discover never-before-seen images, especially those recorded after the fire, and to discover places that are off limits to the public. An impressive immersion in the heart of the nave.
Minus : FlyView is closed until further notice. Given the estimated duration of the work, the experience should be accessible before the reopening of the cathedral. The price is 19.50 euros per person if you book on the web, for 18 minutes with headphones on. 16.50 for families.
An unexpected videogame heritage
In 2014, the French-Canadians of Ubisoft released Assassin’s Creed Unity, a video game praised for its open world in a revolutionary Paris more real than real. In order to recreate the City of Lights in three dimensions, the publisher had digitized numerous monuments, including Notre-Dame de Paris. This titanic work required fourteen months of development, just for the cathedral. In addition to a generous donation of 500,000 euros after the fire, Ubisoft has made a 360° video of its work available on YouTube. Internet users can enjoy a free digital tour of the building, inside and outside, as it must have been in 1789.
The pluses: A real video game prowess realized from numerous historical documents and accessible for free.
The minuses: Despite a real attention to detail, the experience depends on the limits of the medium and does not surpass a real movie. Some of the proposed graphics, especially on distant objects, are very pixelated.