Notre Dame’s rector has said that the devastated cathedral “will be closed for five to six years.” Until 2024 or 2025. ($1 billion has been raised for the reconstruction.) You’ll notice that authorities have entirely blocked off Ile de la Cite. They can’t keep that rule in place for very long. Think of all the tourist joints (cafes, restaurants, souvenir sellers, gelato vendors) that are losing income as we speak.
I’ve stood and stared many times at this hallowed Paris monument over the last 40 years. My father visited me and my then-girlfriend Sophie in Paris in the summer of ’76. Notre Dame was black and sooty at the time, and my father’s first comment when he first laid eyes was “that’s it?” In January ’87 I climbed the winding, claustrophobia-inducing stairs inside one of the grand towers. The kids did the same when we visited in early ’00. My ex Maggie and I were married at St. Julien le Pauvre (the oldest church in Paris), just across the Seine. We stayed at Hotel Esmeralda. I also attended a Sunday mass sometime in the early aughts, and I’ll never forget that smoky incense aroma and the way an older French guy sitting next to me sang “aaahh-mehhn.”