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Reader Question: When will Paris’ Notre-Dame reopen to visitors?

Restoration work on one of Paris' most visited tourist sites has been going on for over three years now, leaving many visitors wondering when Notre-Dame will finally reopen. Here is when you can expect to be able to visit the cathedral again:

Reader Question: When will Paris' Notre-Dame reopen to visitors?
Rowers scull past the Notre-Dame Cathedral situated on the Ile de la Cite (Photo by Jean-Christophe Verhaegen / AFP)

Question: We long to see inside Notre-Dame again and were wondering how long it will take for it to reopen after the fire? Isn’t the restoration nearly finished by now?

Notre-Dame, which has been closed to visitors for the last three years, is still set to be reopened in 2024, according to France’s Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, speaking on a visit to the site in July.

After the fire in April 2019 almost destroyed the centuries-old monument, causing at least 15 percent of the building’s vaults to be damaged or to collapse, President Emmanuel Macron set the ambitious goal of rebuilding and restoring the cathedral within five years to allow access to the public – prior to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Nevertheless – this timeline has been questioned, including by the head of the construction project – General Jean-Louis Georgelin – who told Le Figaro in July that the 2024 goal was “tense, demanding and complicated.” However, he reiterated during the visit with Minister Malak that the “for the moment, nothing, allows to say that the objective of 2024 will not be held.”

The project itself – which suffered from delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic – has been quite intensive and costly.

Additionally, the work was slowed down after toxic lead was released with the collapse of the roof, which required its own removal process.

The first phases involved securing the cathedral before any restoration could begin – there were already works ongoing when the fire started and the spire was covered in scaffolding. This melted and twisted in the heat of the blaze and had to painstakingly picked apart and removed piece by piece before any restoration could begin.

The site also had to be made safe and covered to keep out the weather.

This phase was completed in the summer of 2021, and the next phases focus on restoring the 24 chapels, the great organ, as well as the roof’s frame and the famous spire.

Current estimates are that the spire – which will be a reproduction of the original using 1,000 historic oak trees – will be visible again by spring 2023, according to French news outlet Aleteia.

While the goal is for the cathedral to be open to the public by 2024, more work will continue on the project afterwards. 

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced in June that the landscape around the monument would be made more green, with at least 131 new trees planted, along with other projects to better prepare the space for hot temperatures in the summers. 

READ MORE: Trees, parks, and a stream: How Paris City Hall plans to redevelop Notre-Dame area

What you can do in the meantime

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 worth of Notre-Dame’s history.

It is set to run until the end of 2022 at the Grande Arche at la Défense, and afterwards it is set to be moved to the parking lot below the cathedral’s courtyard until Notre-Dame reopens to the public.

Full-price tickets cost €30, and reduced price tickets are €20. A portion of that price will be donated to the monument’s restoration. 

You can find out more HERE.

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French rail workers threaten more strikes over Christmas holidays

The month of December could be impacted by more strike action on French rail services, as unions threaten to walk out over the Christmas and New Year weekends.

French rail workers threaten more strikes over Christmas holidays

After a three-day strike between December 2nd and 4th that saw around 60 percent of services cancelled on the first day, conductors and ticket collectors have filed notice threatening to strike December 23rd to 26th and December 30th to January 2nd.

There are also separate calls for strike action on Wednesday, December 7th.

December 7th

Three unions (CGT, Sud-Rail and the CFDT) representing train drivers have called for a strike on Wednesday, in a joint memo. They are calling for a “united strike” ahead of a key meeting on Thursday between unions and bosses involved in a pay negotiation.

The statement published by the three unions says that the strike period will run from December 6th at 8pm to December 8th at 8am. According to Actu France, this movement could also affect Transilien lines in the Paris region.

Detailed information regarding the strike timetables, including which trains would be affected, should be available at least 24 hours in advance.

Christmas and New Year’s strikes

Unions have also filed strike notice for the Christmas (December 23rd to 26th) and New Year (December 30th to January 2nd), with the hopes of putting additional pressure on management. However, this is not yet confirmed, as it will depend on the results of the meetings, which will run from December 8th to the 22nd.

READ MORE: Strikes, prices and services – what you need to know about Christmas travel to France

“We will have fifteen days to reopen a dialogue and reach an agreement,” Nicolas Limon, a spokesperson for the inter-union National Collective ASCT, told AFP. “We will do our utmost to ensure that there is no strike at Christmas time.”

Why are rail workers striking?

According to Limon, the issue is that train conductors and ticket collectors are “not considered in the same way train drivers are, even though we work three weekends a month and sleep away from home ten nights a month.” 

Conductors and ticket collectors are also seeking salary increases and for bonuses to be included in the basic salary structure so that they can be taken into account in the calculation of retirement payments.