The fund to renovate the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris today reached the one billion euro mark as President Emmanuel Macron said the cathedral would be rebuilt in five years.
Just two days after an inferno destroyed the spire of the ancient place of worship, organisers of a restoration appeal said the incredible figure was growing all the time.
Stephane Bern, the TV personality who helped launch the appeal by saying Notre Dame was ‘a close friend who almost disappeared’ said on Wednesday morning: ‘The billion-euro mark of donations was reached during the day.’
Macron said in a televised address on Tuesday night that the cathedral would be rebuilt ‘even more beautifully’ within the next few years as he urged the French nation to ‘come together’.
French multinational companies are among those who have pledged money to restore the medieval cathedral, which was engulfed by flames on Monday following a likely accident in its loft.
L’Oreal promised 200 million euros (£172.7m) on Tuesday, while the LVMH luxury goods group run by Bernard Arnault, the richest man in France, has pledged the same.
Multi-billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault and oil company Total have also pledged 100 million euros (£87m) each.
Other high-profile French donors included the investor Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere with 10 million euros, and construction magnates Martin and Olivier Bouygues, also with 10 million euros.
Among other firms, the Credit Agricole bank gave five million euros, while US private equity investor Henry Kravis has promised $10 (€8.8) million.
Corporate contributions are expected to climb, with blue-chip firms like Vinci, Michelin and BNP Paribas also saying they were weighing how to participate.
Air France said it would offer free flights to experts brought in to help with Notre-Dame’s renovation.
Such vast amounts of money mean it is almost certain that Macron’s claim the cathedral will be restored to its former glory ‘within five years’ looks extremely likely.
‘We will rebuild Notre Dame even more beautifully and I want it to be completed in five years, we can do it,’ Macron said in a television address to the nation.
‘It is up to us to change this disaster into an opportunity to come together, having deeply reflected on what we have been and what we have to be and become better than we are. It is up to us to find the thread of our national project,’ he said.
But he also warned: ‘Let us not fall into the trap of haste.’
Macron said that the dramatic fire had brought out the best in a country that has been riven with divisions.
Source: Daily Mail UK