President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame “even more beautifully” within five years, as all of France’s cathedrals rang their bells yesterday to mark 48 hours since the colossal fire began.
The blaze on Monday gutted the great Paris landmark, destroying the roof, causing the steeple to collapse and leaving France reeling with shock.
Macron announced the speedy timescale for restoration -- a process some experts had said would take decades -- in an address to the nation where he hailed how the disaster had shown the capacity of France to mobilise and unite.
Pledges worth around 700 million euros ($790 million) have already been made from French billionaires and businesses to restore the Gothic masterpiece.
An unknown number of artefacts and paintings have been lost and the main organ, which had close to 8,000 pipes, has also suffered damage.
But the cathedral’s walls, bell towers and the most famous circular stained-glass windows at France’s most visited tourist attraction remain intact.
REBUILDING IN TIME FOR OLYMPICS
In a further sign of the monument’s resilience, the copper rooster that topped its spire was found Tuesday in the rubble from the partly collapsed roof, “battered but apparently restorable” according to a spokesperson for the culture ministry.
Macron’s announcement of a five-year restoration timeframe indicates he wants the reconstruction to be completed by the time Paris hosts the Olympic Games in 2024.
“We will rebuild the cathedral even more beautifully and I want it to be finished within five years,” he said in the speech from the presidential palace. “We can do it.”
Macron said that the dramatic fire had brought out the best in a country riven with divisions and since November shaken by sometimes violent protests against his rule.
It had shown that “our history never stops and that we will always have trials to overcome,” he added.
France will invite architects from around the world to submit designs for rebuilding the spire of Notre-Dame cathedral that was destroyed in a devastating blaze, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said yesterday.
The bells of all cathedrals in France rang at 6:50 pm yesterday, 48 hours after the fire started.
Investigators trying to determine the cause of the blaze will also continue questioning workers who were renovating the steeple on Monday before the fire broke out.
The police, who suspect the operation to replace the steeple’s lead covering may have triggered the disaster, have already spoken to around 30 people from five different construction companies.
Public prosecutor Remy Heitz has said the investigation promises to be “long and complex”.