SHAFAQNA- Notre Dame Cathedral’s forecourt opened up to the public Sunday afternoon for the first time since the ravaging fire on the night of 15April last year. The body overseeing the Gothic structure’s restoration issued a statement on Sunday saying that the reopening was finally made possible after several deep cleaning operations took place to remove toxic lead dust from the large forecourt. “It’s almost a form of rebirth today,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, wearing a face mask, said in a short address to journalists while visiting the site with the cathedral’s rector Patrick Chauvet.
“Notre-Dame is the soul of Paris… It’s a site that doesn’t fail to impress you,” she said. French Culture minister Franck Riester said the reopening was “a very important moment”, adding that it was delayed “because of lead pollution and questions of confinement”, Euronews reported. “Notre-Dame is our symbol, more than the Eiffel Tower,” said Stephanie Cadillon, a librarian. “We wanted to see how it had changed”, according to Barron’s. To protect public health, the site will continue to be regularly cleaned, and samples will be taken for monitoring and analysis purposes.
The cathedral is still closed and will remain closed until 2024, at least. Reopening the Parvis of Notre-Dame is one more sign that Paris is coming slowly back to normal. In a tweet earlier on Sunday, Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris recalled that cafés, bars and restaurants reopen their terraces on Tuesday in the French capital, adding that to help they will be allowed to occupy sidewalks, streets and parking spaces free of charge, while respecting health and everyone’s instructions, Europost told.