The date for a partial reopening of Notre Dame has been confirmed as 8 December 2024, five and a half years after the fire that destroyed the historic monument located on Paris’s Île de la Cité in the Seine river.
The date was confirmed by the French President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to the site on 8 December, according to the French newspaper Le Monde. Macron added that he hoped Pope Francis would attend the event and crucially also announced the creation of a museum in central Paris dedicated to Notre Dame, its history, its art and its reconstruction. The French Ministry of Culture was contacted for comment about the new institution.
Macron also unveiled part of the cathedral spire which will be a copy of the structure created by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century (the Viollet-le-Duc spire was the second created for the cathedral after the original 13th century spire was removed in the late 18th century due to damage). The spire will eventually be crowned with a rooster and a cross. The complete restoration of the building, accompanied by a revamp of the surrounding area including the front square, is due to continue until 2028.
After the catastrophe, on 15 April 2019, Macron promised to rebuild the Gothic landmark “within five years”. Then, in 2020, General Georgelin, the French general in charge of reconstructing the cathedral, claimed it would reopen in April 2024, just in time for the Summer Olympic Games, for which more than 10 million tourists are expected to travel to France. Several experts expressed their doubts though.
Georgelin died in a fall in August while trekking in the Pyrenees mountains; his name was etched into the wood of the spire. In an interview with Le Monde earlier this year, he discussed the challenges of rebuilding Notre-Dame and the pressure of meeting the December 2024 deadline.
“The fire at Notre-Dame was spectacular because the oak framework of the nave, choir, and transept burned like logs in a fireplace. And the spire collapsed. But the worst was avoided, as the cathedral did not fall. As for the rest: no stained glass windows were damaged and no artwork was destroyed, except for the Touret altar,” he said.
He also outlined the timeframe for ongoing restoration work, saying: “The initial phase of consolidation and security, which was launched immediately after the fire, was both lengthy and costly, amounting to €150m.”
He added: “The ongoing restoration phase, which began in September 2021 with project studies, has a budget of €550m. As of now, there is still €146m remaining for the third phase of the project. Our goal is to complete the restoration by the end of 2024, enabling the cathedral to reopen for worship and visits.” The project has received €846m in sponsorship, a philanthropic record in France, he said.