Macron says Notre-Dame Cathedral will reopen on time

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Macron says Notre-Dame Cathedral will reopen on time

French President Emmanuel Macron promised Friday that the restoration of Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral, badly damaged by a fire in 2019, would be completed in time for its planned reopening next December.

“We will meet the deadline,” Macron told reporters during his inspection of the site, exactly a year ahead of schedule.

Macron had initially promised to restore Notre-Dame within five years, in time for the Paris Olympics next summer.

But after the first setbacks in reconstruction efforts, he set a new deadline.

The restoration of the UNESCO World Heritage building, which welcomed 12 million visitors a year, has faced several obstacles since people around the world watched in horror as its bell tower collapsed in the fire. April 15, 2019.

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Its new spire has now begun to emerge on the French capital’s skyline and is expected to be fully completed when the city hosts the Olympics.

Behind the scaffolding, hundreds of workers race against time to restore the rest of the cathedral in time for its reopening to the public on December 8, 2024.

The new spire of the monument is identical to the previous one, designed by the 19th century architect Eugène Viollet-Le-Duc.

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Its oak structure is expected to reach its full height of 96 meters (315 feet) by the end of the year.

It will then be covered with lead ornaments before the scaffolding is dismantled.

The frames of the nave and choir of the cathedral, also destroyed, should then be completed, after which the reconstruction of the roof can begin.

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The original five-year deadline was abandoned when reconstruction was delayed by several months by decontamination efforts, after more than 300 tons of lead from the roof melted in the fire.

The authorities then had to interrupt work several times during the first winter due to strong winds, before France went into lockdown in early 2020 to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

More than five years after the fire, three investigating judges are still investigating the causes of the fire.

An initial investigation showed that it was probably an accident, with, among the hypotheses, an electrical fault or a cigarette.

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Macron said there would be a competition to design six contemporary stained glass windows for the cathedral – the only “21st century touch” of the monument, which would otherwise be rebuilt exactly as it was.

Macron also announced the creation of a museum in the center of Paris dedicated to Notre-Dame, its history, its art “and its perpetual reconstruction”.

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