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John Burke's Paris 2000
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After lunch, a glimpse of the Louvre and its glass pyramid.

Right: the square arch of La Defense seen in the distance.

The cathedral at Notre Dame stands on an island in the Seine, the Île de la Cité.

The island was the birthplace of the city that was to be Paris.

The exterior is stunning.

Strange to reflect then that it has been even more so... and much less so.

Originally the statues were painted against the gold of gilded backgrounds.

By 1841 however - the time that Victor Hugo was writing his story of Quasimodo - the building was in a terrible state and King Louis-Philippe started a 23-year restoration.

The colour was not restored however, not just here but in most western churches and cathedrals.

The cathedral was built between 1159 and 1345, replacing an earlier 6th century Christian basillica which in turn replaced a pagan shrine to a black virgin.

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