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In Paris, Worn-Out Notre-Dame Needs a Makeover, and Hopes You Can Help

To foot the bill — an estimated 150 million euros, or nearly $ 180 million — they are hoping to capitalize not only on the architectural patriotism of the French, but also on the francophilia of American donors.

“There is a real need for urgent restoration work,” said Michel Picaud, who heads the newly created Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris foundation, which aims to raise money in the United States.

Notre-Dame de Paris, which sits at the heart of the capital, is on many people’s to-do lists, including the likes of Melania Trump and Beyoncé. It is part of a “sentimental bond” between France and the United States, one forged through wartime alliances, common values and a reciprocal fascination for each other’s culture, Mr. Picaud argued.

Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre-Dame received one of its most significant overhauls between 1844 and 1864, when the architects Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus and Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc redid the spire and the flying buttresses and added several architectural tweaks.

That restoration followed decades of neglect and partial damage at the hands of French revolutionaries, and was prompted in part by Victor Hugo’s publication of his 1831 novel “Notre-Dame of Paris,” which shone a light on the building’s decrepit state.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Île de la Cité

Notre-Dame

Cathedral

Île de la Cité

“Assuredly, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Paris is, to this day, a majestic and sublime edifice,” Hugo wrote in the novel. “But noble as it has remained while growing old, one cannot but regret, cannot but feel indignant at the innumerable degradations and mutilations inflicted on the venerable pile, both by the action of time and the hand of man.”

The words ring true today. “Here we are 150 years or so after he wrote that, the call to arms for the Notre-Dame of 150 years ago, and it works again now,” said Andrew Tallon, an associate professor of architecture and art history at Vassar College.

Notre-Dame, he said, now faces a “very exciting — if not scary — situation, where it needs all its help.”

Not that most tourists could tell, as they stood on a recent afternoon in snaking lines to visit the cathedral, snapping selfies and peering up at its two towers. About 13 million people visit Notre-Dame Cathedral every year — roughly 30,000 a day.

“It doesn’t look like it needs work,” said Liz Bronze, a 25-year-old visiting from London with a friend. “The building looks beautiful like this.”

Source: NYT > World

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