From top of Paris Notre-Dame spire, Macron pledges reopening in a year

  • World
  • Friday, 08 Dec 2023

Statues protected by tarpaulins are seen in the choir of the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral, which was ravaged by a fire in 2019 that sent its spire crumbling down, as restoration works continue a year before its reopening to the public, in Paris, France, December 8, 2023. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) - From scaffolding at the top of Notre-Dame's newly rebuilt spire, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged on Friday that reconstruction of the fire-ravaged cathedral would be completed as scheduled and that it would reopen one year from now.

The wooden spire crashed spectacularly through the cathedral's centuries-old roof in the fire that ripped through the Paris landmark on April 15, 2019. While still surrounded by metal scaffolding, the spire has again been part of the skyline since late last month.

"Deadlines will be met. It is a formidable image of hope and of a France that has rebuilt itself," Macron said.

"This is an important and emotional moment," he added as he spoke with restoration workers on the scaffolding.

The 96-metre (315-foot) spire was not part of the original design of the cathedral - which was built over nearly 200 years starting in the middle of the 12th century. It was added during a 19th century restoration by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.

After the devastating 2019 fire, the spire has been reconstructed in identical fashion, despite initial debate about whether to give it a modern twist.

Macron also announced a contest for artists to design six new stained-glass windows, and the creation of a Notre-Dame museum.

Notre-Dame is set to reopen for religious services and to the public on Dec. 8, 2024.

Some 500 workers are present on the site every day, racing to rebuild the cathedral, which has dominated the Ile de la Cite island in the River Seine since the Middle Ages.

The spire's cross was mounted on Wednesday, next will come the rooster at the top.

From early 2024, workers will start waterproofing the oak roof with lead. Over the course of next year, the cathedral's furnishings, statues and artwork will be brought back in, as well as the organ, which had been taken out completely for renovation.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau and Geert De Clercq; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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