Restore Notre-Dame As It Was, Says French Senate

John Hill
29. May 2019
The pre-fire Notre-Dame Cathedral with its 19th-century spire (Photo via

One month after a fire destroyed the spire of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and an architecture competition was announced for its replacement, a bill approved by the French Senate would effectively nullify the competition.

It took only two days after the April 15th fire for French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe to announce a competition for the design of the new spire atop the famous cathedral. In the ensuing month, numerous renderings have floated about the internet, one reportedly by Norman Foster and most too outrageous to led credence to. 

Perhaps sensing the potential of a contemporary addition to the Gothic structure dating back eight centuries, the French Senate added a clause to a bill approving the government's Notre-Dame restoration, saying it must be restored to its pre-fire condition — to its "last known visual state." Although parts of the church date back to the 1200s, the spire was added in the 19th century per designs by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. 

French President Emmanuel Macron, who wants to see restoration work completed by 2024, when Paris hosts the Olympics, favors "an inventive reconstruction." Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, on the other hand, wants an identical restoration, aligning the Socialist politician with the right-wing-dominated French Senate. 

The senate's bill also removes a clause that would have enabled the government to override environmental and preservation regulations to meet Macron's fairly unrealistic deadline. The bill, if passed by the parliament (made up of the Senate and the National Assembly) and made into law, would also task the country's Ministry of Culture with overseeing the reconstruction process.

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