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Macron visits Notre Dame, marking one-year until reopening after 2019 fire

It is hoped that the cathedral will be ready for reopening on December 8 2024 (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
It is hoped that the cathedral will be ready for reopening on December 8 2024 (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) It is hoped that the cathedral will be ready for reopening on December 8 2024 (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

French President Emmanuel Macron visited Notre Dame Cathedral on Friday, one year before its scheduled reopening in 2024.

After a blaze burned through the roof and spire on April 15 2019, Mr Macron’s visits have become a tradition, with Friday marking his sixth to highlight the rebuilding progress.

Huge oak beams have been hoisted skyward so the cathedral can be re-roofed.

France Notre Dame
France Notre Dame Huge oak beams have been hoisted skyward so the cathedral can be re-roofed following a fire in 2019 (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

The French leader also went up the spire, reconstructed from its previous design by the famed 19th-century French architect Viollet-le-Duc.

It stands at 96 meters (315 feet) and will soon be crowned with a cross and a rooster, restoring an emotional symbol for the French of their heritage.

Mr Macron told reporters: “Since April 2019, the entire nation has been rebuilding.

“And it’s very moving to be here a year before. You can see the extraordinary progress of the work on this nave, the choir and the frames and the spire.”

The schedule calls for the completion of the penultimate restoration phase by the end of the year, with the cathedral’s much-anticipated reopening set for December 8 2024.

France Notre Dame
France Notre Dame French President Emmanuel Macron puts a memorial stele for General Jean-Louis Georgelin, at the spire of Notre Dame (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

During his visit, Mr Macron paid homage to General Jean-Louis Georgelin, who oversaw the reconstruction and died in August.

Wearing a hard hat, Mr Macron was given a tool to assist as Gen Georgelin’s name was inscribed in the wood of the spire under the aegis of an artisan, memorialising his contribution to the cathedral.

Mr Macron’s visit underscored a personal attachment to the architectural jewel, a symbol of the country’s rich cultural, literary and religious history.

An evocative scene also unfolded as Mr Macron, accompanied by his wife Brigitte Macron, observed the restoration works.

France Notre Dame
France Notre Dame It is hoped that the cathedral will be ready for reopening on December 8 2024 (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

The French first lady stood attentively before excavations by France’s National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research where archaeologists uncovered a 13th-century skeleton, adding a layer of historical depth to the restoration efforts.

To prevent lead contamination, all workers and visitors — including the presidential party — wore protective suits, adhering to the meticulous safety precautions in place.

Mr Macron also surveyed improvements in the cathedral’s nave and choir and discussed future projects, including a new museum and contemporary stained-glass windows to memorialise the restoration period itself.