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Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris to reopen crypt and courtyard in March

Barriers were erected around Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris to prevent access after the fire in April 2019.
Barriers were erected around Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris to prevent access after the fire in April 2019. BERTRAND GUAY / AFP

The forecourt and crypt of the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris are expected to re-open to the public in March. This after an extensive lead pollution clean-up following the fire which ravaged parts of the church in April 2019.

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According to the Paris townhall, visitors should be able to visit the crypt below the forecourt of Notre-Dame at the end of March.

The archeological site has been closed since a devastating fire in April last year.

"Obviously this depends on whether the site has been properly cleaned up, but we have been doing regular checks," said Karen Taïeb, deputy to the Mayor, in charge of historical monuments.

She was addressing the National Assembly's commission on the restoration of the church alongside her colleague Emmanuel Grégoire, who went on to say that "if all is well, the reopening of the forecourt, or at least part of it, will happen in the first quarter of the year."

"We first have to put a resin coat on and test it.This new cleaning process is designed to remove the last particles of lead."

Difficult cleaning process

Fears of contamination from the burning of lead in the steeple prompted authorities to undertake a decontamination process which has so far been difficult.

Several procedures have been tested since August but none have been completely efficient thus far, as lead has a way of seeping in to porous surfaces and is difficult to remove.

Incumbent mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who is running for a candidate in the municipal elections next month is keen to launch a public consultation on the future of the forecourt.

But the reopening of the cathedral itself will be much later.

President Emmanuel Macron has estimated the restoration period will take at least five years and millions of euros.

There is a debate over whether to rebuild the damaged parts in the original style, or turn to give it a modern makeover.

 

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