The Notre Dame Cathedral: What Restoration Looks Like Two Years Later

Interior Braces
Interior braces supporting the vaults. Etablissement Public pour la restauration de Notre Dame de Paris Photos.

Notre Dame in Paris: A Commitment to Restoration

By Megan Mentuck

In April of 2019, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was left with significant damage after a devastating fire took hold of the historic site.

Pre-fire cathedral interior. Pascal Lemaitre Photos.
Pre-fire cathedral interior. Pascal Lemaitre Photos.

Two years, the restoration, rebuilding, and preservation of the Notre Dame Cathedral is well underway.

The Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris

The Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris is a nonprofit organization that formed in 2017.

They originally were created to halt the decay of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

In fact, the cathedral hadn’t had any major repairs since the mid-1800s.

When the nonprofit organization was first established, the Friends of Notre Dame embarked on an ambitious goal: raising $135 million for essential restoration.

However, after the fire in April 2019, the nonprofit organization has committed itself to not only revitalizing the historic site but also to “rebuilding, restoring, and preserving the Notre-Dame Cathedral.”

In 2019, the Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris raised over $900 million!

This impressive amount of money was donated by over 10,500 different donors in the United States and from over 50 countries outside of France.

The Safety Phase: Securing the Structural Integrity of the Notre-Dame Cathedral

There’s no doubt that we all remember the overwhelming outpouring of support immediately after the fire.

This was also a crucial moment in preserving the building.

Post-fire interior vault Friends of Notre Dame de Paris Photos
Post-fire interior vault. Friends of Notre Dame de Paris Photos

Before any restoration took place, initial assessments were done to evaluate the damage.

After this was completed, workers were able to begin securing the structural integrity of the building.

This was known as the Safety Phase which began the summer of 2019, which was very shortly after the fire. The Safety Phase mostly focused on securing the structure of the building.

There’s a whole range of tasks that were carried out to protect the structure of the building to both secure its current state and prevent future damage.

This included installing a tarp above the vaults of the building as protection against rain damage.

They also fortified the north, south, and west gables; this step was essential to protect the building’s famous three large rose windows.

Cathedral Spire. Pascal Lemaitre Photos.
Cathedral Spire. Pascal Lemaitre Photos.

There were also damaged pillars of the nave. These large, damaged pillars were fortified as part of the Safety Phase, as well.

Workers also had to reinforce the building’s flying buttresses.

Protecting the Gargoyles

As part of the initial restoration and rebuilding of the cathedral, it was also necessary to wrap and protect structural elements of the building including gargoyles and elements of the north and south towers that were damaged during the fire in 2019.

Lastly, as part of the initial Safety Phase, workers were tasked with removing burnt and melted scaffolding that was surrounding the cathedral’s spire.

Following the Safety Phase, the building will enter the Restoration Phase.

The Restoration Phase of the Notre-Dame Cathedral

Reconstruction work. Friends of Notre Dame de Paris Photos.
Reconstruction work. Friends of Notre Dame de Paris Photos.

Once the Safety Phase is completed, the next step is the Restoration Phase. The Restoration Phase is still in the process of being established.

Currently, diagnostic studies are being done to create a timeline for the work that needs to be done and an estimated cost for what that will be.

It is also important for the Restoration Phase to keep in mind that the French government’s goal is to reopen the cathedral in 2024.

These diagnostic assessments have been carried out by the French public agency tasked with the restoration of the cathedral.

In conjunction with the project management team, the French public agency is working on a timeline and process for the Restoration Phase so that, when they’re ready, they can begin rebuilding the cathedral—and, hopefully, have it fully open for visitors in 2024!

Marking the Two-Year Anniversary of the Fire

April 15, 2021, marked the two-year anniversary of the fire that devastated the Notre Dame Cathedral.

In commemoration of the event, French president, President Macron visited the site.

In addition, there was a virtual event held, “Notre-Dame de Paris: Rebuilding a Legacy.”

The event, organized by the Embassy of France in the United States, featured a variety of notable historians, architectural buffs, and Notre Dame enthusiasts.

Included in that group was Michael Picaud, the President of the nonprofit organization, Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris.

During the live stream, the panel discussed the unique history of the cathedral, its stunning architecture, progress on the building’s restoration, and where revitalization efforts will go from here.

“Piece of the Puzzle” Donor Engagement Platform

To encourage donors and renew public interest in the restoration of Notre Dame, the

Post-fire scaffolding removal Friends of Notre Dame de Paris Photos
Post-fire scaffolding removal Friends of Notre Dame de Paris Photos

Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris organization has launched a new initiative on their online platform.

The new donor engagement platform encourages individuals to get interested in the history of Notre Dame as well as its ongoing restoration.

With this new donor engagement platform, people can look through the different artifacts of Notre Dame and learn more about each one’s specific history.

This initiative offers an interactive way for people to learn more about the history behind each artifact.

Post-fire exterior debris removal. Etablissement Public pour la restauration de Notre Dame de Paris Photos.
Post-fire exterior debris removal. Etablissement Public pour la restauration de Notre Dame de Paris Photos.

Each individual artifact is only a singular “piece of the puzzle.”

Each “piece of the puzzle” is awaiting restoration and people can donate towards the restoration of a specific artifact through this online platform.

Every detail is important when it comes to the restoration of Notre Dame.

Each of its artifacts holds a unique and varied history that contributes to the overall physical environment of the cathedral as well as the cathedral’s rich cultural history.

If you prefer to donate to Notre Dame as a whole instead of to the restoration of a specific artifact, you can do that as well on the website.

Looking Towards the Future

The Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is one of the world’s most beloved monuments.

Before the fire, more than 12 million people every year visited the stunning cathedral.

After the fire, restoration, reconstruction, and preservation of Notre Dame began.

If you want to get involved in the restoration process yourself, you can head over to the Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris website and check out their new donor engagement platform.

Click through the different stunning artifacts retrieved from the cathedral and choose which one you would like to help restore!

Post-fire exterior roof. Etablissement Public pour la restauration de Notre Dame de Paris Photos.
Post-fire exterior roof. Etablissement Public pour la restauration de Notre Dame de Paris Photos.

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