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.
“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.
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.