A devastating fire on 15 April 2019, destroyed Notre-Dame cathedral, which will open to the public, again, in April 2024. Until then, you can visit the cathedral in VR, in the “The Eternal Notre-Dame”.
Visitors to Paris may visit the Notre-Dame cathedral now, although the building will only reopen in 2024. This January, a unique and immersive expedition through time, space, and history invites everyone to dive into the heart of the cathedral’s history, from its construction in the Middle Ages to the current restoration project.
“Eternal Notre-Dame” is a technological challenge. Visitors are welcomed to a dedicated space and equipped with an immersive VR device to explore Notre Dame de Paris, which has been completely recreated in virtual form. They are invited on a “real-life” emotional journey to discover the cathedral’s secrets, historical events and key protagonists that have marked its history.
“Eternal Notre-Dame” is yet another example of the power of Virtual Reality to build narratives and take us through time and space. It does not replace visiting the real cathedral, but it does offer a new perspective allowing an experience that can not be replicated in any other art form or media. Now, the experience is only available at the Espace Grande Arche in la Défense, in Paris. From September 2022, it will move much closer to the site itself, to the Parvis de Notre-Dame – the main square in front of the cathedral. Following that, “The Eternal Notre-Dame” will tour France, Europe, and the rest of the world. One can only hope that it is launched in a home format, as “Mona Lisa: Beyond the glass.”
Notre Dame de Paris in 3D
The reference to DaVinci’s famous painting makes complete sense because the team behind “The Eternal Notre-Dame” is the same as for “Mona Lisa: Beyond the glass”. Leading VR studio Emissive, the company behind the pioneering “Immersive Expeditions” virtual reality tour format is responsible for both. As ProVideo Coalition readers remember, “Mona Lisa: Beyond the glass” VR experience was part of the exhibition at the Louvre Museum celebrating Leonardo DaVinci’s work.
The new experience reveals how immersion in Virtual Reality can be used at the service of History. Equipped with an immersive device (VR headset and backpack), visitors will be able to move freely in a 500 sqm space in Virtual Reality. Guided by a “Compagnon du Devoir” they will travel through different centuries and will explore several eras of Notre Dame de Paris and its environment, recreated in 3D. Thanks to scientific surveys, and precise historical data, the cathedral and its surroundings have been precisely reproduced to enhance the visitor’s immersion and engagement in the experience.
From its construction in the Middle Ages to the current restoration site, “Eternal Notre-Dame” Immersive Expedition is a technological challenge in which visitors will discover an emblematic monument in all its aspects by traveling through space and time and becoming an actor in the rebirth of the monument.
Each visitor will become a donor
Eternal Notre Dame is an in-depth journey during which visitors will learn a lot on the monument’s history and understand the massive amount of work that has been and currently being done for its reconstruction. They will also perceive the deep meaning of Notre-Dame de Paris, which is much more than a monument…
Fabien Barati, Emissive’s CEO, said about the project: “we are excited to show the immense potential of Immersive Expeditions to the public. Our teams are proud to contribute, through their expertise, to the reconstruction and preservation of this unique, so symbolic monument, that is Notre-Dame de Paris.”
The idea for Eternal Notre Dame was born after the devastating fire on 15 April 2019. The Orange Group wanted to proactively contribute to the cathedral’s collective restoration project by offering resources and technological innovation to bring this emblematic heritage site back to life in virtual form. The company noted that “30% of the ticket price will be donated in full by Orange the public establishment dedicated to the conservation and restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral and to the Notre Dame Foundation to finance the Notre Dame interior design program. Each visitor will become a donor…”
850 years of History in a 45 min tour
Orange collaborated with Amaclio Productions, an acclaimed production company working on numerous other sites in France (Les Invalides, the Mont-St-Michel Abbey, the Palais des Papes and the medieval city of Carcassonne), oversees the production and marketing of the immersive experience on site. Bruno Seillier, artistic director behind the “Dame de Cœur” and “La Nuit aux Invalides” shows, oversees the experience’s storyline and scenography.
The promotional video for the VR show presented by Orange & Amaclio productions, produced by Emissive & Bruno Sellier, in partnership with Diocese de Paris Rebatir Notre Dame de Paris & Paris was shot by Cinemi Studio. The team also shot a BTS – shot and edited by Evan Ravo – that shows how the video was created.
Two years of development, a team including 25 specialists in Virtual Reality supported by historical data and historians worked together to create this tour. The “Eternal Notre-Dame” VR experience takes participants in a voyage through time, 850 years of History in a 45 min tour. A maximum of 50 persons can share the experience at the same time, and the show is available in English too, so if you’re visiting Paris and want to see Notre-Dame cathedral in a completely different way, now it’s the time. Again, as I noted before, I hope this experience will also be made available to dive into at home.