This weekend, the 38th edition of the European Heritage Days was in full swing on the forecourt of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. On the program: demonstrations, workshops, meetings, conferences … A whole range of activities intended to reveal to the general public the diversity of professions involved in the restoration of the monument.

Building professionals were obviously at the rendezvous, whether it was the structural work (scaffolders, rope access technicians, carpenters, etc.), project management (architects, engineers, lawyers), as well as project management (architects chief of historical monuments, heritage architects). The arts and research professions also responded, revealing the cross-cutting work deployed for the reconstruction of the cathedral, devastated by a fire in April 2019.

The site has come a long way since, the Notre-Dame foundation, a dedicated organization, having already raised 85.8 million euros out of a total of 267.7 million euros in pledges. Funding potentially supplemented by a call for funds of 5 to 6 million euros launched by the diocese of Paris in June. This request aims to carry out interior fittings within Notre-Dame de Paris (furniture, lighting, sound, extension of the choir organ).

But the highlight of this new school year and of the European Heritage Days 2021 is the end of the work to secure and consolidate Notre-Dame de Paris, announced this Saturday by the public establishment responsible for its restoration.

Launched the day after the fire, this phase was completed “in accordance with the fixed schedule”, according to the public establishment, and punctuated by numerous operations: dismantling of the scaffolding which was in place during the fire, removal of the great organ, cleaning test sites in two chapels, installation of wooden hangers under the flying buttresses, clearing and sorting of remains, securing of the transept crossing …

Meanwhile, the restoration phase has been prepared, to allow work to begin next winter. The public establishment responsible for the restoration of Notre-Dame is even preparing to launch calls for tenders for work, with a view to selecting the companies participating in the project. In addition, “a campaign of thorough cleaning of the interior walls and floors of the cathedral begins this month”, announces the person concerned.

The progress of the restoration of Notre-Dame is accompanied by a donation, last Thursday, of 60 oaks, by the Agency of green spaces (AEV) of the Île-de-France region. With a diameter of around 110 centimeters and a height of 35 meters from the foot to the top, these trunks, marked with the effigy of Our Lady, are partly bicentennial. They will therefore be of size to reshape the framework and the spire of the monument, and will complete the envelope of 10 million euros granted by the Île-de-France region.

Most of the oaks used come from the regional forest of Ferrières, in Seine-et-Marne (77). Before being handled by the journeyman carpenters of Notre-Dame, the species must pass through the hands of hammers, slippers, pruners, fellers, stevedores …

Anne Cabrit, president of the AEV of Île-de-France comments: “Thanks to the know-how of the agents of the AEV and of our partners, the natural heritage comes to the bedside of the cultural heritage”. At the bedside of cultural heritage, but also of short circuits and environmental initiatives, moreover at the heart of the Regional Strategy for Forests and Woods adopted by the Regional Council.

Despite good progress, the reconstruction of the cathedral will not be done in five years, as Emmanuel Macron had promised. However, the monument must be returned to worship by April 16, 2024, the day on which a mass must be celebrated again in the nave, according to the announcements last December by General Jean-Louis Georgelin, president of the public establishment in charge of rebuild the cathedral.

The latter considers the monument “saved”, just like the rector of the cathedral, Patrick Chavet, who was delighted on Saturday on France Info to soon “discover frescoes that we no longer saw because of the wear of time” and “rediscovering the whiteness of stone from 850 years ago, it will transform the atmosphere of the cathedral”.

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