Heritage Day: playing rope access apprentices on the forecourt of Notre-Dame de Paris

The submachine gun flow of a Spanish tourist guide echoes in his headband microphone while his audience leaves, distracted, his gaze dragging on the square of the cathedral. In front of Notre-Dame de Paris, men equipped with uniforms and wearing hard hats are busy under a radiant sun. Some move tall panels covered with texts, others set up scaffolding. Perched on a metal structure, two of them pull out a large display canvas. All these anonymous people finish preparing, in good humor, the reception of the public for the 2021 edition of the European Heritage Days.

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Anonymous, really? It is precisely these little-known professionals, members of ten bodies of state busy restoring the monument, that the public establishment responsible for the renovation of Notre-Dame wishes to highlight this weekend of September 18 and 19. Within a teeming “Village of trades”, the visitor is brought to meet the companions and to discover their missions between demonstrations, workshops and conferences. September 18 marks the official end of the securing and consolidation of the building. The opportunity, too, to “To pay homage” to the work of all these carpenters, scaffolders, rope access technicians who have been struggling for two and a half years on a colossal site, recalls Jérémie Patrier-Leitus, director of development and cultural programming of the place.

September 18 marks the official end of the securing and consolidation of the building.

“Before, we were looked at with big eyes, no one knew what we were doing. The fire was obviously a tragic stage, but we are now more interested in our profession ”, enthusiastically observes Kevin Dessons, rope access team leader. These intrepid workers, “Hands and eyes of other bodies of state”, are responsible for“Access places where no one can go”. After the spire burned, they plunged, hung from joists, into the charred scaffolding to cut through the twisted and intertwined pillars.

“Simultaneity of operations”

Jérémie Patrier-Leitus is pleased with the collaborative work that was carried out during the securing phase: “In many sites, the trades come one after the other. On this one in particular, they were all intervening at the same time. There was a real simultaneity of operations. “ For example, the rope access technicians took chief architects and scientists above the vaults of the monument for the first time. The carpenters, on the other hand, would never have been able to accomplish their mission without the scaffolders. They climbed the 1,200-ton mountain erected by these men in the shadows to fix the hangers and half-hangers to the vaults and flying buttresses of the cathedral. “Everyone needed everyone”, simply sums up Yves Macel, head of the woodworkers.

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