Emmanuel Macron has committed to rebuilding Notre-Dame cathedral within five years after the cathedral was gutted by a devastating fire on Monday evening.
The French President said in a televised address on Tuesday night that the cathedral would be rebuilt ‘even more beautifully’ within the next few years as he urged the French nation to ‘come together’.
‘We will rebuild Notre Dame even more beautifully and I want it to be completed in five years, we can do it,’ Macron said in a television address to the nation.
Macron spoke to the French nation in a TV address on Tuesday evening to reassure people that the cathedral would be rebuilt within five years
Firefighters tackle the blaze on Monday evening as flames and smoke rise from the Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris
‘It is up to us to change this disaster into an opportunity to come together, having deeply reflected on what we have been and what we have to be and become better than we are. It is up to us to find the thread of our national project.’
But he also warned: ‘Let us not fall into the trap of haste.’
Macron said that the dramatic fire had brought out the best in a country that has been riven with divisions.
‘What we saw last night in Paris was our capacity to mobilise and to unite,’ the 41-year-old leader said in the solemn address from his office in the presidential palace.
France had over the course of its history seen many towns, ports and churches go up in flames, he said.
‘Each time we rebuilt them,’ he said, adding that the cathedral inferno had shown that ‘our history never stops and that we will always have trials to overcome.’
Mr Macron’s aim to complete the restoration within such a short timeframe was at odds with some experts’ estimates that the project would take decades.
On Monday a visibly emotional Macron spoke outside the gothic cathedral and said a national fundraising campaign to restore Notre Dame would be launched on Tuesday, as he called on the world’s ‘greatest talents’ to help.
Yesterday Macron said in the immediate aftermath of the blaze that he would be seeking help from the international community to rebuild Notre Dame.
Macron said he would be looking to rebuild the church ‘even more beautifully than it was before’ and urged the nation to come together over the disaster
Donations to rebuild Notre-Dame cathedral top €650MILLION as France’s richest man Bernard Arnault pledges €200million – doubling the €100million donated by Salma Hayek’s billionaire husband
Donations to rebuild Notre Dame have exceeded 650 million euros as France’s richest man pledged 200 million euros (£170m) towards the restoration after Monday night’s inferno.
Bernard Arnault of luxury goods group LVMH doubled the 100 million euros pledged by Hollywood actress Salma Hayek’s husband Francois-Henri Pinault.
Other heavyweight donors include the Bettencourt family – owners of cosmetics giant L’Oreal – who have given 200 million euros and the French oil giant Total who donated 100 million on Tuesday.
Pinault, who is boss of Kering, said: ‘This tragedy impacts all French people’ and ‘everyone wants to restore life as quickly as possible to this jewel of our heritage.’
Pinault, who married Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek in 2009, is chief executive of Kering, which owns brands like Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent
This was followed by another 100 million euro donation from multinational oil and gas company Total, which is headquartered in Paris.
CEO Patrick Pouyanne tweeted that Total was making ‘a special donation of 100 million euros’ and added the slogan ‘fluctuat nec mergitur’ (tossed but not sunk), a motto on the old Paris coat of arms.
But, in a statement, the LVMH group said their donation would be double that.
It said: ‘The Arnault family and the LVMH group, in solidarity with this national tragedy, are associated with the reconstruction of this extraordinary cathedral, symbol of France, its heritage and its unity.
‘In the meantime, the LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the state and the concerned authorities all its teams, creative, architectural, financial, to help the long work of reconstruction on the one hand, and of fundraising on the other hand.’
Other high-profile French donors included the investor Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere with 10 million euros, and construction magnates Martin and Olivier Bouygues, also with 10 million euros.
Bernard Arnault and his wife Helene Arnault (left) and Francois-Henri Pinault with wife Salma Hayek (right)
Among other firms, the Credit Agricole bank gave five million euros, while US private equity investor Henry Kravis has promised $10 (€8.8) million.
Corporate contributions are expected to climb, with blue-chip firms like Vinci, Michelin and BNP Paribas also saying they were weighing how to participate.
Air France said it would offer free flights to experts brought in to help with Notre-Dame’s renovation.
France’s Heritage Foundation has launched a ‘national collection’ on its website.
And Valerie Pecresse, president of the Ile-de-France region, has unveiled a budget of 10 million euros of ’emergency aid to help the archdiocese to start the work.’
Ms Pecresse added: ‘This reconstruction, which will obviously be very expensive, will mobilise a whole country.’
Smoke is seen around the alter inside Notre Dame cathedral on Monday evening. Miraculously the cross and altar managed to survive the inferno
Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris, said she wanted to organise an ‘an international conference of donors’ to welcome ‘experts who are able to raise funds.’
Specialised craftsmen and rare materials are expected to be needed to restore the monument, which welcomes more than 13 million visitors each year – an average of more than 35,000 people a day.
The head of a French lumber company told FranceInfo radio that it was ready to offer the best oak beams available to rebuild the intricate lattice that supported the now-destroyed roof, known as the ‘Forest’.
‘The work will surely take years, decades even, but it will require thousands of cubic metres of wood. We’ll have to find the best specimens, with large diameters,’ Sylvain Charlois of the Charlois group in Murlin, central France, told the radio station.
The United Nations’ Paris-based cultural agency UNESCO has also promised to stand ‘at France’s side’ to restore the site, which it declared a world heritage site in 1991.
‘We are already in contact with experts and ready to dispatch an urgent mission to evaluate the damage, save what can be saved and start elaborating measures for the short- and medium-term,’ UNESCO’s secretary general Audrey Azoulay said in a statement Tuesday.