*** DEBUG END ***

Final-stage renovations begin on Notre-Dame, 30 months after fire

01 October 2021


A picture taken on 12 July shows Notre-Dame de Paris during a rehearsal before the Bastille Day military air parade

A picture taken on 12 July shows Notre-Dame de Paris during a rehearsal before the Bastille Day military air parade

FORMAL renovation has begun on Notre-Dame Cathedral, in Paris, in line with the French government’s pledges to have the Gothic landmark reopened in time for the 2024 Olympic Games after the fire two-and-a-half years ago (News, 18 April 2019),

“We are now officially declaring the cathedral saved — it’s standing solidly on its pillars again, with its walls firm,” Jean-Louis Georgelin, the former army chief charged with restoration by the President, Emmanuel Macron, said.

“Despite delays caused by the pandemic, and the lead scattered during the blaze, we are determined to win this battle. It will be France’s honour to do so, and we are all united behind our goal.”

Speaking to French TV, General Georgelin said that work had focused on making the 850-year-old structure safe, by reinforcing its flying buttresses and removing 40,000 pieces of fire-damaged scaffolding. Notre-Dame’s gargoyles and interior walls and floor would now undergo “thorough cleansing”, he said, while its historic 8000-pipe grand organ would be reassembled by October 2023.

Hundreds of French firefighters battled to save Notre-Dame after the overnight fire, blamed on an electrical fault, brought down its 300-foot spire and most of its 13th-century oak roof, and also destroyed much of its wooden interior and masonry.

Rescue teams removed artworks and sacred objects, including a gold tunic worn by the medieval king St Louis IX (1214-70) and the crown-of-thorns relic, to a place of safety

More than €800 million has since been pledged by private and corporate donors for the state-managed rebuilding of the cathedral, which previously attracted 13 million visitors a year.

The Archbishop of Paris, the Most Revd Michel Aupetit, whose diocese will now be responsible for its interior renewal, pledged this summer to render Notre-Dame “more beautiful than ever” in time for a projected rededication mass on 16 April 2024, three months before the Paris Olympics.

News of the final-stage renovations came as a French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) survey suggested a further decline in religious engagement in the country, especially among the young. The survey suggested that fewer than half the country’s citizens professed belief in God, compared with 55 per cent in 2004.

Whereas more than half the respondents had discussed religious faith regularly a decade ago, the IFOP data suggested that barely one third now did so with family and friends. Although 68 per cent still thought that religion could “transmit positive values”, only 47 per cent considered that it had a “positive contribution to offer” in public debates on bioethics, family life, and economic morality.

The survey appeared to contradict the suggestion made that the 2019 Notre-Dame disaster had reawakened religious feelings in France: almost four-fifths of respondents said that it had “not altered their spiritual situation”.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available


Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)