In the aftermath of the devastating fire that brought down Notre Dame’s spire and seriously damaged its roof, there’s been quite a bit of back and forth about the rebuilding process – how best to handle the cleanup, what materials should be used in the reconstruction, and whether the design should be a historically faithful recreation or reflect a modern sensibility, to name just a few. But whether or not the Paris cathedral is still in danger is one question that hadn’t been addressed – until recently. 

Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on January 6, 2020, covered in scaffolding with a crane in front and birds overhead
Notre Dame "is not out of danger," Monsignor Patrick Chauvet told the AP on Christmas Eve © Philippe Lopez/AFP via Getty Images

Though French president, Emmanuel Macron, has said he wants Notre Dame to be completely rebuilt within five years – in time for the Paris Olympics in 2024, the landmark might not be out of the woods yet. As the cathedral’s rector told AP reporters, scaffolding erected before the fire is now putting the vaults in existential peril

At Christmas Eve midnight mass – the first time in centuries the service was held at a different church – Monsignor Patrick Chauvet told the AP, “today we can say that there is maybe a 50% chance that it will be saved. There is also 50% chance of scaffolding falling onto the three vaults, so as you can see the building is still very fragile.” 

2019 Traffic in Paris, France, with the damaged Notre Dame half-covered with scaffolding in the background
The Paris landmark was severely damaged in the April 2019 fire © Alphotographic/Getty Images

According to architect Francesco Bandarin, that’s because the “scaffolding structure at roof level...became fused by the intense heat” and will require a complicated removal process – “three levels of steel beams to be positioned around its exterior to form a stabilising ‘belt’” and “telescopic crawler cranes that will allow roped technicians to descend into the forest of pipes and gradually cut them away” – before the building’s long-term safety can be assured. 

That work should be completed by April, the former Unesco World Heritage Centre director wrote for the Art Newspaper, then a new temporary roof will be built over the cathedral and temporary scaffolding will be installed in the nave, the choir, and the aisles to facilitate “the restoration of the vaults and the reconstruction of the roof.”

Monsignor Chauvet told the AP that the restoration would likely begin in 2021, at which point the plan for the cathedral’s new look should be more clear. In July, when French members of Parliament finally approved a law on the reconstruction, government officials emphasised that this was only the beginning. "The hardest thing is now ahead of us,” international news channel France 24 quotes culture minister Franck Riester as saying. “We need to strengthen the cathedral forever and then...give Notre-Dame a restoration appropriate for the place it has in the hearts of the French people and in the entire world.” 

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May 16, 2024: We started the day at the Centro Ecuestre Los Caireles.  There we met our hosts Miguel Angel and his brother Jesus, who own and run the farm.  (Miguel Angel wore a black vest.)  The Centro is a horse back riding school.  We shot pics at their farm and then headed to the town of Consuegra.  On the mountain overlooking the town, there is a castle and several windmills.  We shot pics and video of Miguel Angel and Jesus riding around the windmills and the castle.  This area is notable because it is where the fictional Don Quixote rode around in Miguel de Cervantes’ famous novel.  Afterward, we returned back to El Centro where we filmed our hosts riding by grape vineyards and olive groves to the nearby Villafranca de los Caballeros lagoons.
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