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NOTRE DAME

It’s a miracle: Beehives of Notre-Dame survive inferno

Some 200,000 bees inhabiting hives in Notre-Dame cathedral survived the inferno that engulfed the heritage landmark in a miraculous escape, their beekeeper said Thursday

It's a miracle: Beehives of Notre-Dame survive inferno
Bees fly next to beehives set up by French beekeeper Audric de Campeau on the roof the Monnaie de Paris on July 16, 2017 in Paris as the Notre-Dame Cathedral is pictured in the background. AFP

“The bees are alive. Until this morning, I had had no news,” said beekeeper Nicolas Geant who looks after the hives which are kept on top of a sacristry that adjoins the cathedral.

“At first I thought that the three hives had burned but I had no information” after Monday's fire, Geant told AFP.

“Then I saw from satellite images that this was not the case and then the cathedral spokesman told me that they were going in and out of the hives.”

Geant said he had been taken aback by calls of support from all corners of the world.

He said that this kind of bee does not abandon its hive, instead gorging on honey and not abandoning the queen bee.

Each hive at Notre-Dame on average produces some 25 kilogrammes of honey each year which is sold to Notre-Dame staff.

It has become increasingly customary in the French capital for bee hives to be introduced at seemingly unlikely locations, including also at the Paris Opera.

French vocab

bee hive – La Ruche

beekeeperapiculteur

honey – le miel

 

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HISTORY

Notre-Dame restoration work begins as Paris cathedral on track to reopen in 2024

France's Notre-Dame cathedral is finally ready to undergo restoration work more than two years after a blaze ravaged the heritage landmark, and remains on course to reopen in 2024, authorities said Saturday, following months of painstaking work to secure the building.

Notre-Dame restoration work begins as Paris cathedral on track to reopen in 2024

The great mediaeval edifice survived the inferno on April 15th, 2019, but the spire collapsed and much of the roof was destroyed.

The focus until now had been on making the cathedral safe before restoration work could begin, which included the strenuous task of removing 40,000 pieces of scaffolding that were damaged in the blaze.

“The cathedral stands solid on its pillars, its walls are solid, everything is holding together,” said Jean-Louis Georgelin, head of the public entity tasked with rebuilding the cathedral.

Scaffolding in the interior of the building as the restoration phase begins. Photo by Thomas SAMSON / POOL / AFP

“We are determined to win this battle of 2024, to reopen our cathedral in 2024. It will be France’s honour to do so and we will do so because we are all united on this goal.”

The aim is to celebrate the first full service in the cathedral on April 16th, 2024 – five years after the fire – despite delays caused by the pandemic and the lead that spread during the blaze.

The Notre-Dame spire, a later addition to the medieval building, was completely destroyed in the blaze. Photos by AFP

Authorities will now call for tenders to select the companies to carry out the restoration work.

The cathedral’s interior walls and floors will also undergo “a thorough cleaning process” later this month.

Notre-Dame’s famous Grand Organ is already being restored, with its 8,000 pipes dismantled and sent to organ builders all over France.

It is expected to be put together again in October 2023, said Georgelin, the former head of France’s armed forces who was appointed by President Emmanuel Macron to oversee rebuilding efforts.

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