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Notre-Dame forecourt reopens to public a year after cathedral fire

Notre-Dame de Paris in 2013.
Notre-Dame de Paris in 2013. REUTERS/Charles Platiau//File Photo

More than a year after a fire ravaged Notre-Dame de Paris, the cathedral square reopened Sunday afternoon after it was cleared of dangerous lead pollution.

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Barriers sealing off Notre-Dame were removed in the morning, before Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, Cardinal Michel Aupetit and General Jean-Louis Georgelin, in charge of renovation works, were on hand to reopen the site to the public at 3pm.

Speaking to journalists, Hidalgo said the moment represented a "renaissance of sorts" for a monument that was widely seen as "the soul of Paris".

Despite many cleaning attempts, high lead concentrations had forced the forecourt to remain closed – but in a press release Sunday, city, church and building authorities announced those levels were now sufficiently low enough to allow Parisians and pilgrims to return.

"We all wanted to be able to reopen for the Pentecost celebrations," the press release said – even though no religious gatherings will take place on the site.

The City of Paris, the Diocese of Paris and the public establishment responsible for the conservation and restoration of the building confirmed the site was authorised to reopen after receiving the green light from regional health agency the ARS.

Building works to secure Notre-Dame were suspended in mid-March due to coronavirus. They will gradually resume with the aim of finishing a new-look cathedral by 2024.

Notre-Dame lost its gothic spire, roof and many precious artefacts in the fire, which swept through the roof of the famed cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019.
Notre-Dame lost its gothic spire, roof and many precious artefacts in the fire, which swept through the roof of the famed cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019. AFP/File

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