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The French army general charged with overseeing the rebuilding of Paris' fire-mangled Notre-Dame has caused astonishment by publicly telling the cathedral's chief architect to "shut his mouth" in a sign of tension over the monument's future look.
General Jean-Louis Georgelin and chief architect Philippe Villeneuve are at odds over whether to replace Notre-Dame Cathedral's spire — which was toppled in the April 15 blaze — with an exact replica, or mix things up with a modern twist.
President Emmanuel Macron, who appointed Georgelin to head the massive reconstruction project, has said he is in favour of adding a "contemporary" touch.
But Villeneuve insists the tower must be redone exactly as it was before.
Tensions boiled over into an open squabble at a meeting of the cultural affairs committee of the National Assembly — the lower house of parliament– late Wednesday.
"As for the chief architect, I have already explained that he should shut his mouth," Georgelin erupted, to gasps of astonishment from those present at the meeting.
The former army chief of staff suggested that "we move ahead in wisdom so that we can serenely make the best choice for Notre-Dame, for Paris, for the world".
He said the final option will be decided in 2021, and called in the meantime for the "hustle and bustle" over the issue to stop.
Georgelin confirmed the five-year timeframe set by Macron for rebuilding the religious edifice — a deadline some experts see as too ambitious.
'Still in danger'
Villeneuve, however, has previously said the target could only be met if the spire is rebuilt to resemble its former self.
Notre-Dame Cathedral, part of a UNESCO world heritage site covering the banks of the River Seine in Paris, lost its gothic spire, roof and many precious artefacts in the April 15 blaze.
Paris prosecutors said in June a poorly stubbed-out cigarette or an electrical fault could have started the fire and opened an investigation into criminal negligence.
Last month, the cultRead More – Source