It now seems far away, the disastrous evening of April 15, 2019, during which the French, dumbfounded and dejected, watched, helpless, at the fire which almost caused Notre-Dame de Paris to be lost forever. However, for the past few days, with the arrival of a new crane, the reconstruction work has accelerated and hope increases.
The show is enough to give more than one Parisian a stiff neck. Overlooking the medieval Gothic nave, a metallic monster has just appeared comrpised of 350 tons of steel and standing a hundred meters high. The crane responsible for rebuilding the spire of the most famous cathedral in the world has appeared.
Erected on November 26, 2022 south of the building, this crane will also make it possible to transport the scaffolding elements essential for the restoration of the masonry of the south gable, the south arm of the transept, and the structural and roofing elements of the nave, particularly the “trusses” – the structural elements that will support the weight of the structure – which weigh several tons each.
For the past few days, the huge machine has been tirelessly lifting the blocks of scaffolding already assembled at the foot of the cathedral, in order to introduce them into the heart of the building, through the still collapsed roof. Gradually, the scaffolding rises and reaches the level of the vaults, at the crossroads of the transept.
The crane is a good omen for the public institution responsible for the conservation and restoration of the cathedral, which does not hide its joy: “Spire, vaults, frames: the reconstruction is launched! On the ground of the crossing of the transept, a 600 ton scaffolding will soon rise to 100 meters in height: it will make it possible to reconstruct the Viollet-le-Duc’s spire in an identical way,” General Jean-Louis Georgelin is pleased to state.
After the restoration of the framework, which should take many months, a third crane should appear in 2023, to allow the installation of the cover and the various decorative elements that will adorn the future spire that is promised “to be identical” to the original.
In the meantime, Parisians can still go to the Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine, located at the Trocadéro, to admire the imposing statues of the apostles which decorated the spire, and which escaped the fire, removed for refinishing only a few days before the disaster.
It is a wink from Providence, because these statues represent an additional constraint that pushes the architects to reproduce as faithfully as possible the spire designed by Viollet-le-Duc.
If the different phases of the work go as planned, Notre-Dame de Paris could, at least partially, be reopened to worship at the end of 2024.