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Holy load: Timber for Notre Dame rebuild takes to the road

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By Reuters
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JUPILLES, France – After felling oak trees to rebuild Notre Dame cathedral, French foresters confronted their next logistical challenge on Thursday: how to get the massive logs to a sawmill more than 100 km down the road.

The largest log is 26 metres (85 feet) long – longer than the average articulated truck – so it needed special handling: two cranes, a specially-adapted trailer and an escort to guide it along the way.

“It’s not something we do in everyday forestry management,” said Anthony Jeanneau, a technician with France’s National Forestry Office who helped in the operation.

The logs will be used to build the base of the 96-metre-tall spire at Notre Dame, re-creating the one that collapsed on April 15, 2019 as flames ripped through the Paris cathedral in front of shocked crowds.

The trees, estimated to be around 200 years old, were felled in March near the northern city of Le Mans, in a forest that in past centuries supplied timber to build ships for the French navy.

Two logs headed west to the sawmill on Thursday and two more will follow on Friday.

Jeanneau had visited the cathedral with his children on a trip to Paris hours before the fire broke out. He heard the news on the train on his way home.

He said he and his colleagues were happy to be able to contribute to the rebuilding effort, which is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

“We’re very proud,” he said.

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