Notre-Dame fire: a well-cut framework

An immaculate marquee stands in the courtyard of the Ateliers Perrault, in Saint-Laurent-de-la-Plaine (Maine-et-Loire). So high and so long that“we could bring in the village church”, laughs Jean-Baptiste Bonhoure, the CEO of the carpentry and art joinery company. It is there, in this rural town of 1,800 souls nestled in greenery, between Angers and Cholet, that the trusses will be embled, from May 25, these triangles which constitute the framework of the choir and the apse of Notre Dame de Paris.

A spectacular blank lifting, to which the press will be invited, which will make it possible to check that the beams, rafters, rafters and struts fit perfectly. Four years after the terrible fire that ravaged the building before the eyes of the petrified world, the moment promises some chills.

By calling on this company from the west of France, the public establishment in charge of the reconstruction of Notre-Dame was fully aware of its service record. Perrault is 263 years of existence and prestigious sites as numerous as the wood chips that line the floor of the workshop.

“Respect the direction of the wood fibers”

The company (170 employees and 24 million euros in turnover in 2022) signed the renovation of the queen’s hamlet at the Palace of Versailles, that of the belfry of the Saint-Sulpice church, in Paris, and s currently on the Grand Palais and the north facade of the Invalides. She has also worked for the Banque de France, clients such as Rolex and Chanel and with wealthy owners of villas in Palm Beach (Florida) and Monaco.

The company has even exported its know-how to the other side of the world. The lighthouse of San Juan de Salvamento, lost on an island at the eastern tip of Patagonia, bears witness to this. “Yes, but we are also in the process of redoing an ordeal which caught the lightning two kilometers from here, tempers the boss, Jean-Baptiste Bonhoure. There is no small project. » At 36, this construction engineer had the “incredible luck” to take the helm of Perrault after its acquisition by the Ateliers de France group in 2019, ending an eight-generation family saga that began in 1760.

To participate in the reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris, the company joined forces with a company from Eure, the Desmonts workshops, because they needed to master an ancestral know-how: the squaring of the beams with an ax , as practiced by the carpenters of the 13the century.

“It’s the only technique that allows us to respect the direction of the wood fibers, which allows the beam to be both more flexible and more resistant, but there is also an aesthetic dimension”, explains Matteo Pellegrino, 29, carpenter from Montauroux (Var), promoted to chief knacker. “The ax forms cupules on the surface of the wood, it looks a bit like fish scales. » To reproduce this original aspect, it was therefore necessary to have around sixty axes inspired by those of cathedral builders fashioned by an Alsatian toolmaker, La Maison Luquet.

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