Notre Dame Cathedral: Ready for 2024 Paris Olympics?

You may recall the structural fire that engulfed the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral on April 15, 2019. With the Paris Olympics scheduled for July 26 through Aug 11 of 2024, where does the reconstruction stand with only 13 months to go? French President Macron has promised that la Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris will be completed before the start of those games.

The photos show how the French have reconstructed the original 13th century spire design using centuries-old timber that has been carefully selected from the original medieval forests of France. Some of which are being donated by private forest owners. After the timbers are cut and dry-fitted on the ground, they are hoisted into place and permanently secured.

Additionally, the replacement limestone is being procured from the same region north of Paris to match the original stone. Just like in the 1200’s, the rough-cut stone blocks are floated down-river from the quarry to the church’s jobsite on barges where they will be skillfully carved. These modern-day stone carvers have trained rigorously for this task and are specifically licensed to work on historic monuments.

Meanwhile, artists are repainting the sculptures to match the original colors. Off-site, sculptors (different from stone carvers) are creating molds and prototypes that will be used to carve accurate replacement sculptures to complete the restoration. Furthermore, all the soot and staining has been removed from the stone ceiling masonry so that once the scaffolding is removed, the play of light from the stained glass will create stronger color combinations as the light hits the ceiling in its original color.

So, what’s the conclusion?

While impressive progress has been made, some experts have conveyed their doubts in the timeframe for reopening and are suggesting that a decade of time is more reasonable. As we get nearer to the 2024 Paris Olympics, we will continue to keep our eye on this massive project in hopes that it will indeed be open for visitors, and as Macron vowed, “more beautiful than ever”.







(photo credits-France 24)