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Notre-Dame Cathedral to regain spire this year, reopen by end of 2024

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Notre-Dame Cathedral's spire will be back in place by the end of the year, but a full reopening following the devastating fire of 2019 will not happen before next year's Paris Olympic Games.

The reconstruction is still on track for completion by the end of 2024, the culture ministry told AFP.

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"The site is progressing at a good pace," a spokesperson said.

The authorities have previously given December 8 – the Feast of the Immaculate Conception – as a likely deadline.

It means the 12th century cathedral, which previously saw some 12 million annual visitors, will not be able to welcome attendees of the Olympic Games which Paris is hosting in July and August 2024.

But the sharp spire, added by architect Eugene Viollet-Le-Duc during the cathedral's redesign in the 19th century and replacing a previous wooden spire that had fallen into disrepair, will be back in place by the end of 2023, the ministry said.

The collapse of the wooden spire was one of the most dramatic moments of the fire of April 15, 2019.

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An identical version has been made from the same original materials: 500 tonnes of oak wood for the structure and 250 tonnes of lead for the cover and ornaments.

There have been health concerns over the lead debris from the fire, and the use of lead in the reconstruction, with French officials having to reassure their European counterparts that adequate safety measures have been taken.

Preparatory work to start reinstalling the spire began this week, with scaffolding put in place and custom-cut base stones delivered along the River Seine.

Once completed the spire will reach 100 metres high.

Meanwhile, the painstaking clean-up work of the cathedral's interior walls – a total of 42,000 m2 – has been completed, along with that of murals, ironwork, joinery, stained glass and sculptures that survived the fire.

A temporary hangar has been built in front of the main facade for sculptors to restore and replace its statues.

New interior designs are being considered with a winning plan due to be selected this summer.

There was controversy over last year's decision to include contemporary art among the pieces displayed in the cathedral.

Archbishop of Paris Laurent Ulrich recently said he wanted "an educational and spiritual journey… not the equivalent of a museum".

(AFP)

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