French will have say on Notre-Dame restoration – minister

PARIS, France – French citizens will be consulted on how Notre-Dame should be rebuilt after the iconic cathedral was ravaged by a fire on April 15, Culture Minister Franck Riester said Friday, May 3.

"The French will be able to express themselves, and then we'll see which decision (will be taken) and how Notre-Dame will be restored," Riester told LCI television.

He promised a "debate and a large consultation," though the government will have the final say on the Paris landmark, which President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to restore within 5 years.

The church's roof and spire were destroyed in the blaze, with the cause still under investigation.

France has launched an international architectural competition for the reconstruction, raising the prospect of modern touches to a structure dating from the 13th century.

But experts note that it has been modified periodically since then, not least with the addition of the spire by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century, which collapsed into the nave during the inferno.

A YouGov poll released this week found that 54% of respondents wanted the cathedral rebuilt exactly as it was, including the spire and the intricate "forest" of huge oak beams supporting the lead roof.

Only a quarter supported the idea that the rebuilding should include a modern "architectural gesture," while a further 21% had no opinion.

"In general, when cathedrals are restored, new elements are added. So why not have an architectural gesture allowing us to say there was a before and after, and we don't pretend as if nothing happened?" Riester asked.

"But everything will be done in concertation, with consultations, and nothing will be done behind people's backs," he said. –