The latest update from Notre-Dame is that all the burned timbers were removed. “We’ve made great progress in the past month, it’s very encouraging,” says Picaud. “When I last visited the church, I saw one of the biggest steps: installing scaffolding inside the cathedral.”
The church is depending on donations through the fundraising organization and won’t have a ticketing system once it reopens (it will remain free entry). “It’s difficult, as you imagine, there’s so much to do,” says Picaud, who is planning a virtual event with the French Embassy to the U.S. on April 15 at 12 p.m. EST, with a presentation and status update about the restoration.
Today, there is still a hole on top of the church. They’re also building a replica of the church’s spire that was initially designed by 19th-century architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, made of more than 1,000 donated oak trees from public and private forests from all over France. The trees are being cut and collected this spring before they sap and will be stored for 12 to 18 months to prepare them for the reconstruction phase, starting fall of 2022.
Long, straight oak trees, which will be used in the restored structure, are being sent to Paris from all over France.
The goal is to store the wood at a low humidity level (below 30%). Each tree must be long enough to fit an overhead curve of 65 feet long to restore the roof’s framework (its nave and choir). Some of the trees are over 200 years old, according to Bertrand Munch, the director general of the National Forestry Office.
It’s slow progress, but the team of engineers, carpenters, and construction workers remains hopeful. “The selection of these first oaks trees is an important step on the road to the rebirth of the cathedral,” says Dominique Jarlier, president of the National Federation of Forestry Municipalities. “It’s part of a huge transformation.” But with all the hard work and determination, it appears the wait will be worth it.