A total of 1,000 oaks are due to be cut down by the end of March to rebuild the spire and roof of the cathedral, which was ravaged by fire in April 2019.

Oaks from every region of France are being used to rebuild the cherished national monument – around half from state land and the rest from private donations.

The ministers of agriculture and culture attended a ceremony to select the official first tree, a 20-metre (65 feet) oak in the forest of Berce near Le Mans, some 200 kilometres from Paris.

“This is a project that concerns the whole of France,” said General Jean-Louis Georgelin, who chairs the body in charge of restoring Notre-Dame.

“It will ensure the security of the cathedral for eight centuries, ten centuries.”

The trees will be cut up and stored for 12 to 18 months to prepare them for use in the reconstruction phase which is set to begin in autumn 2022, allowing for a planned reopening of the cathedral in April 2024.