Chris Craiker, The Architex Angle: Notre-Dame Cathedral Revisited | Home and Garden

After a vociferous public outcry, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, ended speculation that the 19th-century peak designed by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc could be rebuilt in a modern style. As an architect, you get used to rejected proposals. Oh well…

In May 2019, we ventured to Amsterdam to see my niece and took a five-day trip to Paris. Of course, we had to see the Eiffel tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Montmartre but for us, visiting the wonderful museums of d’Orsay, Monet, Rodin and small local hideaways was essential. Not the Louvre, thank goodness!

But most of all we had to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral. It couldn’t have been more underwhelming. Other than minor clean-up, nothing had been done. The plaza was vacant, and construction companies were advertising their wares. Only this year have they been able to clean up the tons of toxic lead roofing and 10.000 cubic kilograms of damaged structural lumber. The replacement is still going on.

It wasn’t until this year that the French found a forest of oaks that have been standing for hundreds of years in a once-royal forest. Clear-felled this spring in the Loire region’s Forest of Bercé, the lumber will be reshaped to replace the cathedral’s fallen spire. In another 10 years.

But you can’t visit Paris, walk 5 miles, (8 kilometers) without getting hungry, thirsty and looking for a place to dine. Along the Seine River, we found a little place that specialized in au gratin dishes. Yes, potatoes and cheese, but so fresh and astonishingly good. Bistro Des Augustins was barely a hole in the wall but within minutes of Notre Dame. Two little ladies ran the place with precision and grace. We loved the smoked salmon gratin. We ate there three times and loved it!