In a former royal forest, tree surgeons on Monday began felling hundreds of old oaks that will be used to rebuild the framed spire in Notre-Dame de Paris after it was destroyed by fire.
The lead-coated spire, which for more than 150 years had defined the central Paris skyline, was consumed by the flame in April 2019 and collapsed through the vaulted ceiling to the tears and gassings of troubled spectators.
President Emmanuel Macron announced last summer that the 96-meter (315-foot) spire would be reconstructed as it was originally designed by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century and begin the hunt for the 1,000 oaks needed to build the spire and frame cathedral transept.
A 230-year-old sessile oak has been chosen to be used in the reconstruction of the Notre Dame Cathedral in France’s Foret de Berce.
1000 oaks will be chopped down at the end of March to rebuild the spire and roof of the cathedral, which was destroyed by fire in 2019 pic.twitter.com/nYE4s3SchT
– AFP News Agency (@AFP) March 9, 2021
“It’s exceptional,” said Aymeric Albert, Commercial Commissioner of Forestry, about the sawn trunk of 200-year-old oak with a straight bar. “It’s completely straight and without internal defects.”
The trunk was large enough for an 18-foot-long beam to help support the weight of the spire, he said.
The trees that will be taken from Domaine de Berce, near Le Mans, were identified at the beginning of the year and must all be cut down before the end of March before the sap rises and the wood contains too much moisture.
The stems, each worth about 15,000 euros ($ 17,800), will be added to dry for 12 to 18 months before being cut into shape.
The original roof of the cathedral contained so many oak beams that it was called “la foret” (the forest).
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Albert said the selected tribes were the “perfect result” of two centuries of skilful work in a forest that had previously supplied timber to the French navy.
“Now we are leaving room for a new generation of oaks that in 200 years’ time will create the same forest we see today,” he said.