The world watched on as the church’s spire fell on April 15, 2019, after a fire destroyed the centuries-old landmark. Now, two years later, the church is still going through a massive restoration. This jewel of Gothic architecture is being rebuilt with oak trees from local forests, as 200 construction workers operate on-site every day. The goal, according to French president Emmanuel Macron, is to have the church repaired before the city hosts the 2024 Summer Olympics, which is slated to begin on July 26, 2024, in Paris. But is that a realistic goal?
“It’s a delicate question,” says Michel Picaud, the president of Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris, the charity fundraising to rebuild the church. “Opening the cathedral in 2024 won’t necessarily be the last step in the restoration,” he continues. “There’s more work to do. Everyone expects to enter the cathedral by 2024, but then it will continue after that date towards a full restoration.”
The restoration process was stalled due to the pandemic, but the work has resumed.
The first step for Notre-Dame’s roof and spire reconstruction was the safety phase, which started in the summer of 2019 and lasted until November 2020. Scaffolding was built around the cathedral to restore the spire, tarp was installed above the vaults, gargoyles were wrapped, and the flying buttresses were reinforced. Construction continued until the pandemic hit. There was a three-month pause of the reconstruction in early 2020, but construction resumed June 8, 2020, with workers removing more than 300 tons of burned scaffolding that surrounded the spire, which took until December 2020.
To remove the scorched scaffolding on the roof, a secondary structure of metal beams was built on three levels to help prevent the collapse of the church. Workers dangled on ropes to access the heart of the scaffolding.
The current goal is to have the cathedral open by the summer of 2024.