Will be in Paris next week, has anyone been to Notre Dame very recently? If yes, is any part of the interior open, or is it just "look from the outside" at this point?
I walked by last week. Only outside viewing is available.
Notre Dame is currently 4-1 and ranked #9 in the AP poll. The cathedral will probably be off limits for the next few years.
I think you can safely conclude that the cathedral will be closed to the public for the next 5 to 10 years. Damage was extensive and construction will be costly and complex.
They have not even started fixing it -- it is still being stabilized so it doesn't collapse completely. I will certainly not be finished for 5 years and I would estimate at least 10.
I hate being a pessimist but I think ten years is wildly optimistic. The Cathedral at Reims was destroyed by the German shelling in 1918, as I recall, and its restoration is still not completed. Perhaps the high touristic profile of Notre Dame will speed things up, but remember the recent promises of swift completion were made by politicians.
We were in Paris within the last two weeks and the entire area around the cathedral is blocked off by 8-10 foot construction fencing. You can walk around the entire perimeter (by walking on the streets and sidewalks) and see the current status but there is no access to the interior and it is strictly a look and see situation. All over Europe there seems to be a great deal of discussion regarding church funding and maintenance of church structures. Germany (and may other European countries?) have a separate church tax now in place trying to solve the funding issues. We visited several beautiful, old church structures that are no longer being used as churches and funding for their upkeep and maintenance seems to come in many forms. It looks like Notre Dame may be headed for the same dilemma.
It looks like Notre Dame may be headed for the same dilemma.
Notre Dame de Paris and effectively all churches built in France before 1905 are owned by the state and subsequently leased back, for nominal sums, to the church. This is why the French government is directing the restoration of Notre Dame.
There seemed to be a great deal of discussion among the locals, debating whether the money should be spent on the restoration of Notre Dame or other needs in the city. Ultimately, I guess the donor can earmark their donation to be used exclusively for the restoration or to fill pot holes? It will be interesting to follow the process.
"Notre Dame de Paris and effectively all churches built in France before 1905 are owned by the state and subsequently leased back."
Except for the churches of Alsace-Moselle which were part of the German Empire in 1905 and therefore not covered in the 1905 law of separation.
Particularly in the UK I've encountered de-consecrated churches (not sure that's correct terminology) being used for totally non-religious purposes. It seems to be a good way to make use of a beautiful and/or historic building no longer needed for its original purpose, and the rent collected from shops, market stalls and restaurants probably covers basic upkeep. I don't imagine that would work for a really large church, however. The amount of ground square-footage wouldn't bring in enough money to maintain one of the monster churches.
Again in the UK, some of the churches I visited had prominent signs near a donation box, stating how much it costs per day to keep the church open. I saw amounts in the high three figures or even over £1000. A couple of times I received an emphatic "thank you" when a volunteer (I assume) saw me drop money in the box. I think times must be very hard if you are not Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's, etc.
And St. Martin-in-the-Fields isn't the only church I've encountered with a restaurant or tea room.