Restoring the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris

Fondation Notre Dame

Notre Dame cathedral in Paris was ravaged by fire on April 15th 2019. The appalling images will remain in our memories for ever. The catastrophe triggered a worldwide outpouring of generosity with hundreds of thousands of donors in over 150 countries wanting to contribute to the mammoth restauration project.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the priority was to shore up and secure the edifice. Funded mainly by le Fonds Cathédrale de Paris established by la Fondation Notre Dame, the first phase of the work to stabilize the structure has already started. Between 80 and 200 craftsmen are working daily on this exceptional and particularly complex project.

From the very first stage of the project, the Michelin Corporate Foundation wished to work closely with la Fondation Notre Dame, chaired by the archbishop of Paris the Most Reverend Michel Aupetit, to play its part in restoring this unique treasure of our cultural heritage.

After the fire brigade had done its work, one of the first tasks was to make the choir, the transepts and the nave watertight and an enormous protective umbrella was constructed. Several emergency measures were taken in the months following the fire. They include:

  • evacuating the cathedral’s art works;
  • making the choir, the transepts and the nave watertight;
  • clearing debris;
  • implementing protective measures;
  • underpropping the flying buttresses;
  • inspecting the vaulting;
  • installing construction machinery for working at great heights;
  • bracing the scaffolding of the damaged nave so it can be dismantled.

The scaffolding was scheduled to be dismantled and cut up in the Spring of 2020 but the work was only finished at the end of November. Bad weather and then the Covid-19 health crisis reduced the labor force,  with a resulting overrun of delivery dates and the initial budget. But despite these difficulties, completion of this crucial stage is a new step forward for the project.

The phase of restoring and rebuilding the edifice, including the floors, walls, timberwork and roofing, is an enormous challenge whose duration and cost are as yet unknown. Archbishop Michel Aupetit nonetheless hopes the first celebration will take place by 2024.

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© C2RMF/Alexis Komenda © Christian Lutz / Etablissement public chargé de la conservation et de la restauration de la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris © Photo Pascal Tournaire – JARNIAS

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