Notre Dame Cathedral set to reopen in December 2024

Every day in Paris and across the country, about 1,000 people work to rebuild the famous cathedral

Charles, one of the carpenters restoring Notre Dame Cathedral, puts his medieval building skills on show in September 2020. AP
Powered by automated translation

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is set to reopen to visitors and faithful at the end of 2024, less than six years after a fire ravaged its roof, French officials said Monday.

The cathedral's spire collapsed in the blaze but will gradually start reappearing above it this year in a powerful sign of its revival, said the army officer in charge of the project, Gen Jean-Louis Georgelin.

“The return of the spire in Paris’ sky will in my opinion be the symbol that we are winning the battle of Notre Dame," Gen Georgelin told AP.

The reconstruction started last year, after more than two years of work to make the cathedral stable and secure enough for artisans to start rebuilding.

Authorities have chosen to rebuild the 12th century monument, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the way it was before.

That includes recreating the 93-metre spire added in the 19th century by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.

Fire damage at Notre Dame - in pictures

Meanwhile, an exhibition called Notre-Dame de Paris: at the heart of the Construction Site is to open to visitors on Tuesday in an underground centre in front of the cathedral.

The exhibition, which is free of charge, highlights continuing operations at the site and the expertise and skills of workers.

It also features some remains from the fire and works of art from the cathedral.

Gen Georgelin said the cathedral would reopen in December 2024, in line with the goal set by President Emmanuel Macron just after the fire.

But it will be too late for the Paris Olympic Games scheduled for summer next year.

“My job is to be ready to open this cathedral in 2024 and we will do it," Gen Georgelin said. "We are fighting every day for that and we are on a good path.”

This “means that the archbishop of the capital will be in a capacity again to celebrate the Catholic liturgy in his cathedral" and the cathedral will also "be open for tourists to visit", he said.

Culture Minister Rima Abdul-Malak told AP that this did not mean all of the renovation would be finished then.

"There will still be some renovation work going on in 2025,” Ms Abdul-Malak said.

Four 200-year-old oaks felled to rebuilt Notre Dame cathedral - video

Four 200-year-old oaks felled to rebuilt Notre Dame cathedral

Four 200-year-old oaks felled to rebuilt Notre Dame cathedral

Meanwhile, the new exhibition near the cathedral will allow visitors, including those coming for the Olympics, “to live what could be this experience of visiting Notre Dame in a brand new way,” she said.

And virtual reality show will allow paying visitors to dive into the history of the cathedral.

"That will help also tourism in Paris,” Ms Abdul-Malak said.

Every day in the capital and across the country, about 1,000 people work to rebuild Notre Dame, Gen Georgelin said.

“The biggest challenge is to comply precisely every day to the planning we have done," he said.

“We have a lot of different works to achieve: the framework, the painting, the stones, the vault, the organ, the stained glass, and so on.”

Philippe Jost, managing director of the government agency overseeing the reconstruction, said that the result “will be faithful to the original architecture".

Mr Jost said “we are sticking to the vanished shapes of the cathedral” and ”we are also sticking to the materials and construction methods” of medieval times.

“We don’t do concrete vaults that look like stone, we do stone vaults that we rebuild as they were built in the Middle Ages,” he said.

Mr Jost said the roof framework would also be made from oak as it initially was.

Updated: March 07, 2023, 7:58 AM