A guide gives explanations to tourists in front of Notre-Dame-de-Paris cathedral, on Wednesday. (Photo: AP)
The crypt under the plaza in front of Notre Dame Cathedral, spared during the 2019 fire that devastated the medieval edifice, reopened to the public on Wednesday after a painstaking cleaning to remove traces of lead dust that spewed from the nearby blaze.
The Archeological Crypt of Notre Dame features an exhibition on two figures central to the cathedral, writer Victor Hugo, who brought the character of the hunchback, the bell ringer, to the world in 1831, and architect Eugene Viollet-Le-Duc, who designed the soaring spire felled in last year’s fire.
The crypt is not officially linked to the cathedral, which President Emmanuel Macron wants to see fully restored by 2024, in time for the Olympic Games to be held in the French capital. The cathedral is currently off-limits to visitors as work moves ahead.
But the crypt opened its doors after a painstaking cleansing. The April 15, 2019 fire spewed toxic lead dust, notably from the cathedral’s melting spire, throughout the vicinity.
There were several examinations of the underground crypt.
“Every time we thought it had worked, and in fact, no, it hadn’t,” said Anne de Moudenard, chief curator of the exhibit. “So, decontamination then the pandemic.
“Actually, this exhibition was ready one year ago.”