A rare glimpse from inside Notre Dame shows there is a long way to go before the cathedral is back to its Gothic glory.

The 850-year-old landmark was ravaged by a fire three months ago that tore through the roof and sent the famous spire crashing to the ground.

Just three months ago, it would have been packed with worshippers and tourists admiring the architecture and stained-glass windows.

But today, instead of crowds, its filled with specialist workers carrying out painstaking work to make the building safe.

Great protective nets have been hung to prevent objects falling from the roof and causing damage, and staff must guard against lead poisoning because of the contamination caused by the old melted roof.

An acrid smell still hangs in the air, while rows of untouched seats at the front of the cathedral are a reminder of what it looked like before the blaze.



The visit came a day after the French parliament finally passed a law on the reconstruction of the cathedral, which President Emmanuel Macron wants completed within the next five years.

The restoration work will require replacing the roof and the spire which collapsed to the ground.

But before any of this can begin, the cathedral needs to be secured so that no part, in particular the vault, is at risk of collapse.

Notre Dame’s chief architect Philippe Villeneuve said: ‘We are not at all in the restoration (phase). We are still in the urgent securing.’

The risk of collapse is still so great that only remote-controlled machines are allowed to access some areas.

A large pile of rubble has been gathered in the middle of the nave and Villeneuve said every piece will be scrupulously examined.

He said ‘nothing is thrown away’ and that each piece of rubble is analysed to provide a precise scientific picture of the cathedral ahead of the restoration process.

He added: ‘The site is not just a place for architects but for scientists and researchers.

‘A catastrophe took place, but it will bring a lot of new knowledge.’

Despite the damage, the cathedral’s great pillars still stand tall, with its main organ intact and world-famous rosette stained glass window radiating colour in the sun.



Culture Minister Franck Riester donned a white overall and hard hat for the visit. He hailed the progress but said there is a long road ahead.

He said: ‘There was a mountain of rubble there just a few weeks before.’

Riester said the workers were wearing special masks because of the presence of lead which seeped into some of the stone during the fire.

The minister added: ‘We need to take all the necessary measures.’

He said the five-year deadline set by Macron was ‘not the question for today, the question is securing Notre Dame’.

Paris prosecutors said in June that a poorly stubbed-out cigarette or an electrical fault could have started the fire and opened an investigation into criminal negligence, without targeting any individual.

On June 15, two months after the fire, clerics conducted the first mass inside the cathedral since the blaze, donning hard hats along with their robes for their safety.