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09.07.2020 Europe

Public 'largely' in favour of Notre-Dame spire being rebuilt as it was

By Jan van der Made with RFI
Public 'largely' in favour of Notre-Dame spire being rebuilt as it was
LISTEN JUL 9, 2020

There is a "large consensus" that the spire of the fire-damaged Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt as it was, France's new culture minister Roselyne Bachelot has said. The massive 19th-century spire collapsed into the nave of the church as a blaze tore through the rafters of the cathedral in April last year.

Bachelot told French radio France Inter "there was a large consensus in public opinion and among those deciding" the issue for the spire to be rebuilt exactly as it was.

Her comments came hours before a commission that was set to rule on the question, the National Commission on Heritage and Architecture (CPNA) was due to meet.

But Bachelot said the final decision was in the hands of French President Emmanuel Macron, who up until now has supported a modern architectural "gesture" on the 13th-century monument which was partly destroyed by the fire.

Macron wants Notre-Dame to be restored to its former glory by 2024, in time for the Paris Olympics.

But reconstruction work has been plagued by delays due to the weather, sanitary concerns over lead pollution and most recently the coronavirus pandemic.

Stark disagreement 

On Thursday, four Greenpeace activists climbed a crane carrying out work on the cathedral and unfurled a banner demanding the French government do more to tackle climate change.

Sharp disagreements about what to do with the spire also emerged after Macron said that "a contemporary architectural gesture might be envisaged" to replace the 96-metre spire "since it wasn't part of the original cathedral".

The spire was added in mid-1800s, replacing a medieval one that was removed in 1786.

Last week, the man put in charge of the reconstruction effort, General Jean-Louis Georgelin, said the delicate task of removing the twisted and molten scaffolding around the cathedral should be finished by the end of September.

The wooden roof of the cathedral caught fire during restoration works, sparking a vast outpouring of emotion – and donations for the rebuilding – from across the world.

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