Controversial Macron-backed Notre-Dame revamp plans spark fierce online backlash


A petition, which has attracted thousands of signatures, challenges a restoration backed by Macron, which proposes to incorporate contemporary design into the historic Notre-Dame cathedral.


Emmanuel Macron’s plans Modernizing the ancient chapel windows of Notre-Dame Cathedral, created by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1859, with contemporary stained glass artwork has sparked heavy criticism across France.

Although the original windows survived the dramatic 2019 fire that devastated the church’s roof and iconic spire, the French president announced during a visit to the 13th-century cathedral last monthhis proposal to move them to a new museum dedicated to the restoration of Notre-Dame.

He also proposed inviting contemporary French artists to submit designs for new windows in six of the seven chapels along the church’s south nave.

Online opposition

Over 125,000 people expressed their opposition to the plan through a message online petitionemerged just two days after Macron’s announcement.

“How can we justify restoring stained glass windows that survived the disaster and then immediately removing them? Who gave the head of state a mandate to modify a cathedral that does not belong to him, but to everyone,” underlines the letter, published by La Tribune de l’Art.

And he continues: “Emmanuel Macron wants to put the sign of the 21st century on Notre-Dame de Paris. A little modesty might be the best thing. We won’t be so cruel as to remind you that this sign already exists: fire.”

Didier Rykner, creator of the petition and editor of La Tribune de l’Art, suggested that a more appropriate contemporary tribute would be to commission new windows for the cathedral’s north tower, where fire damage was much more severe.

The cathedral is scheduled to reopen on December 8, 2024, and will undergo minor renovations until 2028.

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