The forecourt of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has opened to the public once again for the first time since the devastating blaze that damaged the iconic building over one year ago. 

The City of Paris, the Diocese of Paris and the Public Institution responsible for the conservation and restoration announced recently that the opening was made possible following deep-cleaning of the toxic dust that spread around the public plaza and Rue du Parvis during the fire which took place on 15 to 16 April 2019. Paris' mayor, Anne Hidalgo, joined media and senior clergy for a special visit to the area on Sunday afternoon, tweeting about her joy that “Parisians and visitors can once again enjoy this exceptional place.”

Clean-up operations have been ongoing over the last year, and were carried out in different phases, but work was delayed as a direct result of lockdown measures put in place due to the spread of COVID-19. 

Paris Notre Dame
Notre Dame Cathedral before the fire © Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

The fire caused a reported 440 tonnes of lead inside the 850-year old roof to melt leading to toxic debris spreading throughout the area. Clean-up was halted for some weeks last summer while air quality and toxic dust was dealt with. Workers at the site have had to undergo strict protection measures such as multiple showers and stripping down to paper underwear to ensure that they can continue the clean-up in a safe manner. 

The site will continue to be monitored and cleaned regularly in order to protect the health of the public, with samples being taken for analysis.

French president Emmanuel Macron set a five-year goal for the reopening of the cathedral after the fire destroyed its spire and a large part of the roof. The cathedral is still closed as internal and external work is being carried out.

Read more:

In photos: Notre Dame through the centuries
"I hope this is au revoir and not goodbye" - Our last trip to Paris before lockdown

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