Experts Urge Emmanual Macron To Reconsider Five-Year Deadline For Notre Dame Restoration

Notre Dame Cathedral with Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris.
Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Although France has set a bar high with its plans to rebuild Notre Dame before the Olympic Games in 2024, experts are urging President Emmanual Macron to call off the deadline and work on the reconstruction “without haste.” Macron previously made a televised address in which he promised to restore the cathedral in just five years.

Dezeen reports that over 1,000 architecture and heritage experts signed a petition to urge Macron to reconsider current Notre Dame restoration plans. The letter includes signatures from the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Philippe de Montebello, president of the Association of Heritage Architects Rémi Desalbres, and general administrator of the Louvre museum Wanda Diebolt.

“Let’s take the time to find the right path and then, yes, set an ambitious deadline for an exemplary restoration,” the letter reads.

“Let us not erase the complexity of the thought that must surround this site behind a display of efficiency.”

French newspaper Le Figaro published the open letter, which urges Macron to provide more time to diagnose the project and consider the opinions of experts.

“Let’s take the time to diagnose. The executive can not do without listening to the experts,” continues the letter.

“These French and international resources put the best chances on the side of France to restore Notre-Dame de Paris in its symbolic dignity. Let’s listen to them. Let’s trust them, trust them, without delay but without haste.”

Before the letter, Dezeen reports that the timeline was already criticized by experts in medieval architecture, who suggested that it’s less than half the time needed for such a project.

The letter also urges Macron to carefully consider the nature of the restoration following French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s idea to hold an international architecture competition to replace the 19th-century spire designed by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. While the news of a competition pushed architects from around the world to release their ideas for the spire’s replacement, the letter believes that the Notre Dame restoration should not become “a gesture of architecture” but instead “millions of gestures” from both experts and non-experts alike using both knowledge and science.

Notre Dame was undergoing restoration work before the fire, and some believe that this work is what accidentally caused the gothic cathedral to burn. Back in 2017, an appeal was launched to raise the €1 million ($1,117,695 USD) to restore the cathedral’s flying buttresses and spire. Now, over €1 billion ($1,117,695,000 USD) has been donated to the restoration.