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Notre-Dame de Paris: after reopening in December, work will continue

Deadlines met and a budget undoubtedly in surplus.

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Notre-Dame de Paris: after reopening in December, work will continue

Deadlines met and a budget undoubtedly in surplus. Five years, almost to the day, after the fire which ravaged the Paris cathedral, the president of the public establishment for the restoration of Notre-Dame wanted to reassure the senators. Heard for two hours by members of the Cultural Affairs Committee, Philippe Jost set the scene using spectacular photos of the interior of the monument, which has become creamy white again, the walls of the polychrome chapels, and the spire today. erected and carpenters posing on the replica of the medieval framework.

“We collected 846 million euros in donations and patronage, we dedicated 150 million for security and the envelope for restoration operations should be around 552 million,” the senior official then detailed. Which should leave us with a balance of around 150 million euros.” To those who questioned him about the possibility of devoting all or part of the remainder to the restoration of other less well-endowed religious buildings, Philippe Jost refused. “From 2025, we will continue work on the exterior parts of the cathedral, starting with the restoration of the apse and the sacristy,” he said, stressing that the major patrons had given their agreement.

For the moment, this exceptional project is in an “intensive work phase”. 250 companies and artistic professions work there, and are, according to the president of the establishment, “the honor of France”. In the evening, when silence falls, the organ builders are retuning the pipes of the immense organ, spared from the fire but full of dust.

The medieval framework, rebuilt using Middle Ages techniques, is completed, although the lead roofing still remains to be installed. “We are restoring for at least 860 years, using the original operating methods and materials,” continued Philippe Jost, evoking a “bias which is not only aesthetic, but durability and longevity.”

“A piece of bravery”, standing 96 meters above the ground, the spire is, to date, only partially covered and decorated with lead, a state which should last for a few months. The 650-ton scaffolding, which is placed on the floor of the cathedral, will be dismantled, so that the vaults can be closed, and the diocese can install its new liturgical furniture. The scaffolding will then be reassembled in the fall of 2024, above the vaults.

The objective is to open to the public and for worship on December 7 and 8. Faced with the expected public success, Notre-Dame will be able to welcome a “maximum of 12 to 15 million visitors per year”, with 2,500 people present at a time in the monument. Before the fire, between 10 and 12 million tourists flocked there. “We are going to experiment with ticketing (reservation of time slots), but we will not be able to perform a miracle by welcoming 20 million people each year,” explained Philippe Jost.

Several EELV senators were concerned about the possible consequences of lead, a toxic material, on a monument located in the heart of Paris. A “rainwater filtration system” having run off the roofs will be tested in 2025, explained Philippe Jost “and we have installed fire doors in the frame, as well as a misting system”. So much so, he concluded, “that a fire like that of 2019 would no longer be possible”.

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