Thursday, 16 April 2020

Notre-Dame a Year After the Fire

The day of the catastrophic fire at Notre-Dame de Paris we were working with two American clients who had come down from Paris for a few days to enjoy the quiet atmosphere of the Loire Valley after living the expat life in Paris for a while. We visited a couple of chateaux, had a nice lunch and stopped off at a winery. It wasn't until that evening that we all heard the devastating news. Ironically, if our clients had been at home in Paris they would have been eyewitnesses to the disaster, as their apartment had a view of the cathedral.

We don't offer tours in Paris, but of course, as heritage professionals and history lovers, we have been closely watching progress at Notre-Dame. In August last year we went up to Paris to join a tour group that we were going to work with and got our first and so far only glimpse of the damage. Having worked in the heritage industry for the past couple of decades, we know quite a bit about the management of fire risk and fire damage in historic monuments, which we are happy to talk about to clients if they are interested. Notre-Dame is clearly offering particular challenges to the restoration team, partly because of the sheer scale of the damage and partly because of the place the building holds in people's hearts the world over.

We are pleased to see that the man in charge of the project seems to be the exact combination of decisive and sensitive that this type of heritage conservation work requires. In interviews he appears to be open and honest about the challenges and risks, so one feels confident in his ability to complete how and when he says it will be done. Just at the moment, after the challenges of the lead contamination, yet another impediment has been thrown in his way. Currently the site sits idle while the whole of France concentrates on controlling the Covid-19 outbreak. But there is a plan to get the rope workers back up on the scaffolding to continue their delicate work of cutting the old fire damaged pipes away from the building. That will feel like a real achievement.

Photo take in August 2019, four months after the fire, 
but from this angle you would not realise anything was wrong.
Notre-Dame de Paris, August 2019. Paris. France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.