The nave of Notre Dame de Paris will be reopened for religious services and visitors in December 2024, five and a half years after the fire that destroyed it, according to General Jean-Louis Georgelin, who heads the agency in charge of the cathedral’s reconstruction.
The date is symbolic. Immediately after the catastrophe, on 15 April 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron promised to rebuild the Gothic monument “within five years”, a statement criticised by many observers in light of the extent of the damage. Then, in 2020, General Georgelin claimed the cathedral would reopen in April 2024, just in time for the Summer Olympic Games, for which more than 10 million tourists are expected to travel to France. Several experts expressed their doubts.
According to the Culture Ministry, work will continue through 2025, notably to rebuild the spire, which will be a copy of the one created by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century. The complete restoration of the building, accompanied by a renovation of the forefront, might continue until 2028. Philippe Jost, director of the reconstruction agency, underlined that the timeline was dependent on the use of original materials, like stone, oak or lead, chosen to rebuild the cathedral. “We do not build vaults made in concrete and covered in stone,” he said. “We make them in stone, as in the Middle Ages”.
One thousand people are employed on the reconstruction site in Paris and around the country to meet the 2024 deadline, said General Georgelin, who opened an exhibition under the cathedral’s forecourt dedicated to the restoration efforts. The estimated budget for rebuilding and restoring the cathedral is around €700m, which should be largely covered by pledged donations and sponsorships amounting to €840m.