June 17, 2024
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By THOMAS ADAMSON 

The French president Emmanuel Macron paid a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral last Friday. This was one year ahead of its planned reopening date in 2024.

Macron has made his visits to the cathedral a regular tradition since a fire destroyed the spire and roof on April 15, 2019. This is the sixth time he’s visited the site, highlighting the progress of the reconstruction. Massive oak beams were hoisted into the sky to allow for the re-roofing of this cathedral.

On Friday, the French president climbed the restored spire designed by famed architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century. The spire stands at 96 metres (315 feet), and was recently crowned with the cross. Soon, it will be topped with a rooster. This is a symbol of French heritage and an emotional one for them. In the Middle Ages the rooster became a symbol for hope and faith. It was later associated with France during the Renaissance.

Macron said to reporters that “since April 2019 the whole nation has been rebuilding.” It’s even more moving than a year ago to be in this place. The work in this nave is progressing at an extraordinary rate. You can also see how the frames, spire and choir are coming along.

Scheduled to be completed by December of this year, the much anticipated reopening of the Cathedral is set for 8th Dec. 2024.

Macron, during his visit to the cathedral, paid tribute to Jean-Louis Georgelin who had overseen its reconstruction. He died in August. Macron, wearing a hardhat and a tool, was asked to help inscribe Georgelin’s name in the wood spire, under the supervision of an artist, to commemorate the general’s contribution to this cathedral.

Macron’s trip to Paris was a sign of his personal connection with the architectural gem, which is a representation of France’s rich literary, cultural and religious heritage.

A similar scene unfolded when Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron observed the restoration work. She stood before the excavations of France’s National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research, where archaeologists discovered a 13th century skeleton. This added a historical layer to restoration efforts.

All workers, visitors, including the president’s party, wore protective suit to prevent contamination with lead.

Macron inspected improvements to the nave and choir of the cathedral and talked about future projects. The new museum will feature contemporary stained glass windows.

The artist was asked to create six stained glass windows to commemorate the restoration of some cathedral chapels after the fire.

In a nearby new museum, the former Viollet le Duc stained-glass window will be displayed. A former cathedral capping rooster that survived the fire, but was deformed due to the heat and the long fall will also be displayed at the museum.

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