It’s been almost a year since a shocking fire destroyed the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral, and the restoration process itself has not been without its own drama. From lead contamination to the threat of collapse, authorities have had to work delicately but confidently to bring one of the world’s most iconic structures back to life. Recently, it has been announced that the crypts and plaza at Notre Dame may be reopened to the public as soon as this spring.
As reported by The New York Times, deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Grégoire, said that he hoped sections of the square in front of the cathedral would once again be open for the public to enjoy “if everything goes OK”. The statement had the first part of the year as a timeline. Mr Grégoire also said that work would be carried out to remove lead contamination from the rubble at the site.
Following the fire on 15 April, a reported 440 tonnes of lead inside the 850-year old roof melted, causing toxic debris to spread throughout the area. Clean-up was halted for some weeks last summer while air quality and toxic dust was dealt with, the next phase being the complete removal of rubble. Deputy mayor Karen Taïeb has expressed a desire to open the plaza and crypts by March, provided there is no lead contamination that puts the public’s health at risk.
“The Crypte archéologique de l’île de la Cité will reopen with a new exhibition, a tribute to Notre Dame, but for now we do not know the precise date. The crypt will reopen as soon as the clean-up operation will be finished and the site safe,” Camille Courbis of Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris and Crypte Archéologique told Lonely Planet.
President Emmanuel Macron has said that Notre Dame Cathedral will be opened within five years, while experts have suggested that it may take several decades for it to be fully restored.
As recently as last month, reports were shared that the cathedral itself may still be under threat of collapse, due to scaffolding that was erected before the fire that became fused to the structure.