Two years after Notre Dame cathedral was devastated by a fire, French President Emmanuel Macron visited the construction site Thursday morning, praising the restoration work done so far and looking ahead for the iconic Parisian landmark.
"We are all impressed by what we're seeing here," Macron said, according to French newspaper Le Figaro. "We see that in two years an immense amount of secure and expert work was accomplished."
His visit was an opportunity to thank those who have helped save the cathedral, with specialists including carpenters, glassmakers, painting and sculpture restorers, archaeologists, organ builders and many more.
Macron said that the cathedral will be ready to make its grand re-debut in three years, ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, however, many officials have publicly said that work will not be fully completed by then.
"The objective…is to return Notre Dame to worshippers and to visits in 2024. That means that in 2024, Mass will be able to be organized in the cathedral," Jeremie Patrier-Leitus, a spokesperson for the restoration, told The Associated Press.
Although the cathedral may be able to host mass, it likely will not be able to welcome its typical annual 20 million visitors by that time.
Rebuilding the cathedral after the fire has been delayed due to several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Before reconstruction could even begin, workers had to clear toxic lead dust from the area. The project is still in its initial consolidation phase and the actual act of restoring is expected to begin next winter.
"I can say today that the cathedral is saved," Patrick Chauvet, Notre Dame's rector, told The AP. "It is well secured and we can now do the huge work of reconstruction that is not going to destabilize the whole building."
Work on the cathedral over the past two years has already cost about $197 million. Integral work included removing scorched scaffolding from the roof, stabilizing the cathedral's vaults and felling 1,000 oak trees to rebuild the cathedral's frame as it had been originally built.
Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.
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