Macron hopes to rebuild "more beautiful" Notre Dame in five years. "I'd say decades", said Eric Fischer, head of the foundation in charge of restoring the 1,000-year-old Strasbourg cathedral.
French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral "even more beautifully" within five years, as France reeled with shock from the fire that gutted the great Paris landmark.
Mr Macron announced the fast timescale – for a process some experts said would take decades – in an address to the nation where he hailed how the disaster had shown the capacity of France to mobilise and unite.
Pledges worth around €700m have already been made from French billionaires and businesses to restore the Gothic masterpiece.
Most of the roof has been destroyed, its steeple has collapsed and an unknown number of artifacts and paintings have been lost. The main organ, which had close to 8,000 pipes, has also suffered damage.
But the cathedral's walls, bell towers and the most famous circular stained-glass windows at France's most visited tourist attraction remain intact.
Mr Macron's defiant comments indicated he wants the reconstruction of the cathedral to be completed by the time Paris hosts the Olympic Games in 2024.
"We will rebuild the cathedral even more beautifully and I want it to be finished within five years", Mr Macron said from the Elysee Palace. "And we can do it."
He said that the dramatic fire had brought out the best in a country riven with divisions and since November shaken by sometimes violent protests against his rule.
"What we saw last night in Paris was our capacity to mobilise and to unite", Mr Macron said, hailing France as a nation of "builders".
|This was not an accident. That was a crime. (Photo by Francois Mori)|