LONDON — The crypt and parts of Notre Dame Cathedral’s plaza are expected to reopen to the public in the spring, Paris officials said this week — almost a year after the landmark 850-year-old building was mauled by a fire that devoured its roof, weakened its structure and sent shock waves through France and beyond.
The beloved cathedral, the park behind it and the plaza nearby have remained closed amid fears of lead contamination from the damaged church roof and spire. Dozens of workers have been repairing the building that President Emmanuel Macron vowed at the time of the blaze would reopen within five years.
This week, Paris’s deputy mayor, Emmanuel Grégoire, said he hoped that parts of the square in front of the cathedral would become accessible again to the public in the first half of the year “if everything goes OK.”
Grégoire told a group of lawmakers that workers would first have to remove lead traces from the site, since levels there and in the cathedral’s rubble remain a cause for significant concern.
The workers have sorted the rubble under tents set up in the forecourt, strengthened flying buttresses and other damaged parts of the buildings, and prepared to remove a massive scaffolding that had been set up around the cathedral’s roof before the fire to help workers carry out renovations.
Another deputy mayor, Karen Taïeb, said the crypt, a museum under the plaza, would reopen at the end of March if the site did not present risks of pollution.
“Obviously this depends on whether the site has been properly cleaned up, but we have been doing regular lead checks,” said Taïeb, who is in charge of historical monuments in Paris.
Taïeb and Grégoire spoke Wednesday to lawmakers who are part of a parliamentary commission on the restoration of the church.
Grégoire did not say which parts of the forecourt would be reopened, or when. City officials have delayed the reopening several times, because the techniques used to remove lead traces are dependent on the weather.
On the site, construction workers are expected to start removing the damaged scaffolding next month, an essential step in renovating the cathedral. The operation, which will take months to complete, has been delayed because of poor weather conditions.