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LIFE IN PARIS

Chinese experts to help France rebuild Notre-Dame cathedral

Chinese experts will participate in the restoration of France's Notre-Dame cathedral, state media reported on Wednesday, following a meeting between the two countries' heads of state in Beijing.

Chinese experts to help France rebuild Notre-Dame cathedral
Notre_Dame cathedral in Paris, minus its famous spire which collapsed in the blaze. Photo: AFP

The 850-year-old cathedral, which was scarred in April after a fire tore through its roof and toppled its spire, was the most visited historic monument in Europe.

Since the blaze, which took 400 firefighters to control, Chinese and French authorities have been in touch about cooperating on restoration efforts, reported official news agency Xinhua.

“China has a great deal of experience in renovating ancient buildings affected by fire, especially ones made of wood,” said Chai Xiaoming, director of the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, in an interview with state-run China Daily.

“This means we could offer suggestions on how to approach the renovation of the oak-framed roof on Notre Dame Cathedral,” he said.

Citing a document signed by the two countries during President Emmanuel Macron's visit to Beijing, Xinhua said Chinese experts will work with French teams in on-site restoration without elaborating.

“China and France will collaborate on the theme and model and select Chinese expert candidates for the cooperative restoration work in 2020,” it said.

The partial destruction of Notre-Dame sparked an outpouring of condolences around the world earlier this year, with Chinese President Xi Jinping calling the cathedral “an outstanding treasure of human civilisation.”

Though its stained glass windows, towers, bells and most artworks and relics survived, reconstruction work to rebuild the 13th-century cathedral will take years.

It is only at the end of 2020 that a complete check will allow architects to work out how to restore the cathedral – and no reconstruction is expected to start before 2021.

French president Emmanuel Macron had originally said he wanted it restored in time for the 2024 Olympics, which are being held in Paris, although this idea now seems to have been quietly shelved.

The type of reconstruction has also caused controversy, with traditionalists appalled by ideas to create a more modern alternative to the spire that was engulfed by flames. 

READ ALSO Seven of the more outlandish ideas for rebuilding Notre-Dame

 

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TRAVEL

Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed

Striking airport workers have blocked part Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, with some flights already delayed by at least one hour.

Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed
Striking airport workers outside Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt | AFP

Last month, trade unions representing workers at the Aéroports de Paris (ADP) – the city’s Charles-de-Gaulle-Roissy and Orly airports – called for a strike between July 1st and July 5th in an ongoing dispute between French airport workers and bosses over contract renegotiations.

A second wave of protests are expected next week, after a strike notice was filed for July 9th.

Tensions mounted on Friday morning as some 400 protesters staged a raucous demonstration at CDG’s terminal 2E, which mostly deals with flights outside the Schengen zone, as police officers looked on.

At Orly airport, meanwhile, some 250 people demonstrated “outside”, while a small group was inside.

The dispute is over a long-term plan by ADP to bring in new work contracts for employees at the airports, which unions say will lower pay, job losses and a reduction in rights and bonuses for employees.

The strike is being jointly called by the CGT, CFE-CGE, Unsa, CFDT and FO unions, who said in a joint press release that the proposals will “definitively remove more than a month’s salary from all employees and force them to accept geographical mobility that will generate additional commuting time”.

Unions say that staff face dismissal if they do not sign the new contracts.

ADP said on Wednesday that it expected ‘slight delays for some flights but no cancellations’ to services – but it urged travellers to follow its social media operations for real-time updates.

On Thursday, the first day of action, 30 percent of flights were delayed between 15 minutes and half-an-hour.

ADP’s CEO Augustin de Romanet had said on Tuesday that ‘everything would be done to ensure no flight is cancelled’. 

ADP reported a loss of €1.17 billion in 2020. 

Stressing that discussions are continuing over the proposed new contracts, the CEO called for “an effort of solidarity, with a red line: no forced layoffs.”

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