‘Don’t mess with Notre-Dame’ The Local’s readers warn France

The French government may still be at loggerheads over the issue of restoring the fire-damaged Notre-Dame cathedral, but The Local's readers have delivered their verdict.

'Don't mess with Notre-Dame' The Local's readers warn France
Notre-Dame before the fire, with spire intact. Photo: AFP

After the devastating fire on April 15th that badly damaged the roof and completely destroyed the spire of the Gothic Paris landmark, thoughts have turned to repairs.

But here it gets a little controversial, with some people wanting it restored exactly as it was before the blaze, while others favour a more modern revamp for the 12th century building.

The issue is currently dividing the French government, after ministers launched an international architecture competition to solicit some interesting and unusual designs.

IN PICTURES: Seven amazing ideas for the restoration of Notre-Dame

The swimming pool idea did not find favour with readers of The Local. Photo: UMA

However when the restoration bill came before the French Senate, senators added an ammendment that stipulated the iconic cathedral must be restored 'exactly as it was' before the fire.

The bill has now been sent back to the Asemblée nationale and the two branches of the French government will now have to see if they can work out a compromise.

But it seems that readers of The Local are clear on what they want – a traditional restoration

Our Twitter poll showed that 78 percent of people wanted it put back exactly how it was, while over on Facebook 74 percent of people voted in favour of an exact replica.

READ ALSO Fancy taking a dip in Notre-Dame's rooftop pool?

One reader described a modern restoration as “like using balsa wood to restore a piece of mahogany furniture” while another simply said “Traditional PLEASE GOD.”

Some of the more unusual ideas for the restoration have included putting a swimming pool on the roof, having a rooftop garden and making the entire roof out of stained glass.

But if the French public at large are in agreement with our readers then it seems they will go going traditional, as Culture Minister Franck Riester has pledged that the French people will be consulted about the final design.

“The French will be able to express themselves, and then we'll see which decision (will be taken) and how Notre-Dame will be restored,” he told LCI television.

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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.