Visit the Notre Dame Using VR

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The Parisian Cathedral is closed to the public until 2024. An immersive film proposes to (re)discover the interior of the cathedral during its reconstruction. By Baudouin Eschapasse

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Since spring 2018, FlyView, a company located just a stone’s throw from Opéra, has been offering tourists the opportunity to visit Paris through virtual reality. In two years, nearly 300,000 people have been able to discover the capital from the air, thanks to a flight simulator offering visitors an unusual experience of “teleportation” above its most emblematic monuments.

Since its reopening on July 11th (after a mandatory closure due to COVID-19), the site has been programming a new attraction: an immersive visit to the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral. The experience is breathtaking. Equipped with a virtual reality headset and stereo headphones, sitting on rotating armchairs that allow you to turn around with ease, you are literally plunged into another dimension. And the illusion of entering the building is complete.

Produced by Targo Studios, the film, shot with a 360-degree camera system, allows the viewer to look in all directions. “The result is that no one really sees the same thing because everyone is looking in a different direction,” jokes Antoine Lacarrière, FlyView’s General Manager.

Shooting began three months before the Notre Dame fire. It resumed after the tragedy, using drones. The footage, filmed before and after the fire, was intertwined to show the extent of the destruction caused by the collapse of part of the roof.

This little 18-minute documentary gem is the work of two young 25-year-old filmmakers: Chloé Rochereuil and Victor Agulhon. It was they who convinced Patrick Chauvet, rector-priest of the Notre-Dame, to agree to become the central character in a film that was originally to be called The Man Behind Notre-Dame.

To do this, the two directors planted their cameras in the nave, in the middle of mass, and also on the steeples of the church. “Their images give access to inaccessible places (such as the sacristy or the attic, editor’s note). “After the fire, their project took on another dimension,” says Sophie Lemonde, FlyView’s programming manager. These shots will help the architects in their reconstruction work.

For now, this film offers a spectacular opportunity to rediscover the cathedral in a surprisingly sensitive way. In fact, emotions run high several times during the course of this short film where, in addition to Father Chauvet, General Georgelin, who is in charge of supervising the reconstruction work of the cathedral, testifies, as does Anne Hidalgo, who recounts what she felt on April 15, 2019, when she saw, through the window of her city hall office, the flames rise above the monument.

FlyView: 30, rue du 4-Septembre (Paris 2e). Métro Opéra. Single fare: 19 euros. Open daily from 9:30 am to 7 pm (10 am to 9 pm on Friday and Saturday). Information and reservations: www.flyview360.com

Featured Image: Stock Photos from DiegoMariottini / Shutterstock

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