TEMPO.CO, Paris - President Emmanuel Macron pledged on Tuesday that France would rebuild the fire-devastated Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, saying he hoped the work would be done in five years and the French people would pull together to repair their national symbol.
Macron devoted a brief prime-time televised address to Monday's catastrophic blaze in the heart of the capital, again postponing planned remarks on his response to months of anti-government protests.
"We will rebuild Notre-Dame even more beautifully and I want it to be completed in five years, we can do it," Macron said.
"It is up to us to convert 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."
"This is not a time for politics," added Macron, who had canceled a speech planned on Monday evening on the response to the "yellow vest" protests.
He visited the site of the fire late on Monday and promised then to rebuild the cathedral, parts of which date to the 12th century.
A massive fire consumed Notre-Dame Cathedral on Monday, gutting the roof of the Paris landmark and stunning France and the world. The firefighters saved the main bell towers and outer walls from collapse before bringing the blaze under control.
Flames that began in the early evening burst rapidly through the roof of the eight-centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which toppled, quickly followed by the entire roof.
The bell towers were still standing and many valuable artworks were saved after more than 400 firemen worked to contain the blaze, finally quelling it 14 hours after it began.
As the city and the country grieved for a potent national symbol, billionaires, companies and local authorities were quick to offer donations.
Some 24 hours after the fire started, more than 750 million euros ($845 million) had been pledged, including 500 million from the three billionaire families that own France's giant luxury goods empires: Kering, LVMH and L'Oreal.