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NOTRE DAME

Modern v traditional: Final decision due on Notre Dame reconstruction

The contentious issue of whether Notre Dame cathedral will be restored exactly as it was or with a modern twist will finally be decided on Tuesday by the French parliament.

Modern v traditional: Final decision due on Notre Dame reconstruction
The damaged Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Photo: AFP

The battle over how Notre-Dame will be reconstructed has been raging between the French parliament and the Senate in the months following the blaze which devastated the monument back in April. 

But on Tuesday, the French lower parliament – the Assemblée national – will have the final say on the restoration bill. 

The two authorities have been at loggerheads, with the Senate arguing that the monument should be restored exactly how it was before the devastating fire while the government wanted to find a more “inventive reconstruction” – in the words of French President Emmanuel Macron. 

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Should France break with historic rules so Notre-Dame can be restored in five years?Photo: AFP

In fact, the government had launched an international architecture competition to debate ideas on the restoration, with suggestions including a rooftop garden, an 'endless spire' of light and a swimming pool on top of the building, before the Senate took a stand.
 
On top of that many members of the Senate, dominated by the right-wing opposition, have been especially critical of President's Macron's promise to finish reconstruction within five years.
 
The dispute has led to several readings in the French parliament, with the first reading held in May before the Senate made its changes followed by a second reading in early June. 
 
After it was rejected in June, a joint commission of French MPs and senators worked on the bill together in an attempt to reach a compromise between the traditionalists and the modernists. 
 
This version will come before the French parliament where MPs will have the final say on Tuesday. 
 
The bill outlines a national subscription project to be put in place in order to manage funds collected, making donations made from April 16th through December 31st eligible for a deduction of 75 percent, up to €1,000.

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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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