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The fire, Notre-Dame de Paris

sister page to
France - île de la cité, Paris:
in the context of Abelard and of French cathedrals

Tour de France 2024

site map

Notre-Dame de Paris, five years after the fire
restoring the cathedral's silhouette - raising the spire again
When will the cathedral re-open to the public?
Notre-Dame de Paris: four years after the fire, reconstruction on schedule
cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris fire, 8 months on (31 december, 2019)
financing the rebuilding
Le Pallet, the birthplace of Pierre Abelardabelard says
that spire - la flèche
the cathedral of notre dame and its predecessor, the basilica of st. étienne
dimensions of notre-dame de paris
the south rose
the north and west roses
end notes

DONATIONS NOW  846 millions d’euros avaient été récoltés.

Parmi les défis techniques, Philippe Jost cite la reconstruction à l’identique, achevée fin mars, des charpentes de la nef et du chœmur avec plus d’un millier d’arbres bicentenaires, spécialement sélectionnés dans les forêts françaises.

En décembre, la cathédrale a également retrouvé sa flèche, avec sa croix et son coq, apposés au sommet.

Le grand orgue, le plus grand de France, avait été épargné par le feu mais recouvert de poussière de plomb. Après nettoyage, ses 8 8 000 tuyaux ont été remontés un par un, et son harmonisation devrait durer six mois pour redonner sa « voix » à Notre-Dame.

Les toitures de la nef terminés cet été

Concernant l’intérieur, la cathédrale a retrouvé une luminosité, relaie l’AFP. Le nettoyage des murs, voûtes et décors est quasiment achevé. D’ici l’été, les toitures de la nef, du chœur et de la flèche, la restauration des sols, ainsi que des travaux sur du mobilier d’art intérieur, doivent aussi être terminés.

À partir de l’automne, le parvis et les accès seront dégagés et réaménagés en lien avec la Ville de Paris, chargée de restructurer les abords, qui doivent être verdis, à l’horizon 2028.

L’appel à candidatures pour la création de vitraux contemporains, selon le souhait du président Macron, a été lancé mercredi. Ils ne devraient toutefois pas être installés dans la cathédrale avant 2026.


Notre-Dame de Paris, five years after the fire

Five years to the day after the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris, the craftsmen who worked on its reconstruction say they are satisfied to see the project soon completed.

The images are still in everyone's heads: Notre-Dame de Paris on fire, the spire collapsing, the roof threatening to do the same. It was five years ago, April 15, 2019. The reconstruction, still in progress, is well advanced. Since February, a new spire, an exact replica of the one designed by Viollet-le-Duc, has once again pointed into the sky of the capital . The reopening is scheduled for December 8 . In the meantime, hundreds of craftsmen and workers have visited the site one after the other to restore it to its splendour.

Restored stained glass windows, protected pending reopening

Restorer Emma Groult spent a year and a half looking after the stained glass windows of the cathedral which she found, immediately after the fire, "in relatively good condition". She explains: "They had suffered a lot of dust, but there was no damage, very little melted lead. Despite the disaster, they were relatively well preserved." They still had to be dismantled to transport them to the MurAnése workshop in Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse. There, they were able to be cleaned and restored before being reinstalled where they were, on the upper bays of the choir.

Of this extraordinary project, Emma certainly remembers the tight deadline, but also the excitement on the site: "all the strata (levels) are being done at the same time! We are not used to there being excavations on the ground, while we work on the stained glass windows above and while a frame is being rebuilt above our heads . The stained glass windows are now in their place and have been protected while awaiting the end of other reconstruction operations."

Restoration of wall paintings still in progress

Marie Parant is still hard at work in the cathedral. Her work restoring the chapel murals will not be completed until this summer . But she notes with pleasure the progress of the work: “When we arrived, the building was like an exoskeleton, filled with scaffolding, we could barely see the walls. Now, there is almost no scaffolding left. the interior. We are reclaiming the monument little by little, I think that our memory will forget these bad times."

restoring the cathedral's silhouette - raising the spire again

Spire that existed in the 12th century.

For his first speech since his appointment, Philippe Jost, previously the right-hand man of General Jean-Louis Georgelin, assured (on franceinfo Radio) that the reopening of the cathedral, ravaged by the gigantic fire in 2019, was still planned for December 2024.

The sudden death of Jean-Louis Georgelin, Monsieur Reconstruction, in the Pyrenees mountains has not had an impact on the pace of the work, which will continue as he had decided. "We owe it to many, but we also owe it to him,” said Mr. Jost.

The spire for the end of 2023

M. Jost expects that the spire and the silhouette of the cathedral will be visible during the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympic Games, taking place on the Seine.

“The silhouette of the cathedral has completely changed since the fire. I hope that, during the Olympic Games in July 2024, we will have the large roof of the cathedral with the spire above. Then everyone will perceive at that moment that we are really very close to reopening a few months later,” he continued.

The spire, a “masterpiece of wooden framework”, will rise up to 100 metres in height and will be visible “at the end of 2023”. It will be revealed “as and when we cover the spire with the protection of its wooden frame, from the first half of 2024”.

Inside, Notre-Dame “is still under construction but, when you enter, you are struck by its brilliance”, the cleaning and interior restorations being “almost completed”, Mr. Jost also announced.

Right: Spire that existed in the 12th century   


Charles Hiatt has well said,

[...] The great cathedral seen at a distance looks ancient indeed, but a closer inspection proves to us that the hands of modern men have been at work on it. Indeed, one writer goes so far as to regret that it has been scraped and patched without, and bedizened and bedaubed within. In the first edition of Victor Hugo's famous novel, Notre Dame, he tells us that
"if we examine one by one the traces of destruction imprinted on this ancient church, the work of time would be found to form the lesser portion the worst destruction has been perpetrated by men especially by men of art."
Since Hugo wrote this much more "restoration" has been carried out at the metropolitan church of Paris. But though I regret so-called "restoration" on principle, I cannot help feeling that the work executed by M. Viollet-le-Duc and M. Lassus is far less objectionable than it might have been." [1902]

When will the cathedral re-open to the public?

Answer - 8th December, 2024 - the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

progress on exterior of Notre-Dame de Paris, spring 2023In 2022, the Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak anounced the reopening of Notre-Dame de Paris remained on schedule for 2024, an “ambitious objective” despite an “extremely complex site”. General Jean-Louis Georgelin, in charge of the restoration of the cathedral, declared that a reopening to this schedule was "a tense, rigorous and complicated objective", without however calling into question the initial timetable. “For the moment, nothing, nothing, nothing allows us to say that the objective will not be met,” he insisted.

In fact, we now know the exact date for reopening. Just over five years after the terrible fire that destroyed its roof and damaged several vaults, the Gothic building will reopen its doors to the public on Sunday 8th December, 2024, the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. 

Left: Construction is progressing according to schedule. Towards the end of 2023, Parisians should be able to again see the spire, rebuilt identically to that which disappeared in the flames in April 2019.

19 August 2023, a sad update- Monsieur reconstruction deceased
General Jean-Louis Georgelin, 74, was killed in a hiking accident in Ariège on the evening of Friday August 18. This former chief of staff of the armies was responsible for supervising the reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, after its fire in April 2019. He had been appointed after more than two and a half years of retirement, and was soon named "Monsieur reconstruction".

Notre-Dame de Paris: four years after the fire, reconstruction on schedule

The gigantic reconstruction site of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris has made great strides in April 2023, achieving and important stage: the laying of the base for the new spire, four years after the fire that ravaged Notre-Dame de Paris.

Now, the reconstruction site is advancing rapidly. The President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron visited recently. He confirmed that the completion of the spire this year, 2023, and the official reopening of Notre-Dame de Paris, for worship and visits, for December 8, 2024.

The rebuilding of the spire, one of the most delicate operations, is being carried out by more than 500 workers. The installation of the tamboret,  the plinth on which the new spire is installed, was finished four years to the day after the fire and one year from the reopening of the monument, promised by Emmanuel Macron.

The construction site takes a decisive step

This plinth forms the base of the spire. "It's a tangle of beams, very complex assemblies",  explains Philippe Jost, general manager of the establishment in charge of rebuilding Notre-Dame. "It looks like a square that measures 13 meters by 13 meters. Since last week, we have started erecting this tambouret in the cathedral 30 meters high."

Once the tamboret is completed, the spire and its scaffolding will then rise gradually.  By the end of the year, the spire will top out at 96 metres high in the sky of Paris and will be the exact copy of the one destroyed: an assembly of oak, lead and stone. "We have chosen continuity. We want to give back to the French, to the whole world, the cathedral they love" , wrote Jean-Louis Georgelin, head of the establishment responsible for the reconstruction.

Scaffolding inside the cathedral.
scaffolding inside the cathedral of Notre-Dame
image credit: © Maxppp - Sarah Meyssonnier

cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris fire, 8 months on (31 december, 2019)

Now the interior of the cathedral has been cleared of artefacts using robots - the danger of falling stones and debris is always present, as well as the fear of lead dust contamination, the artefacts are being cleaned and stored in tents on the parvis (open area) to the west of the cathedral. (Obsessed with the idea of ​​a lead-related health scandal,  nearly 70 craftsmen have up to 6 decontamination showers a day, wearing masks and coveralls in certain areas.)

The destroyed roof has been replaced with a huge tarpaulin, while the stained glass panels have been removed for safekeeping and repairs. The resulting open spaces have been enclosed by weather protection. Now under great stress as the various forces acting on the building have changed considerably, the flying buttresses have been braced by larch wood frameworks that support their arches.

The current state of the cathedral nave and scaffolding. Photo: Jean-Gabriel Barthélemy
The current state of the cathedral nave and scaffolding. Photo credit: Jean-Gabriel Barthélemy, Paris-Match

So far, it is estimated that the cathedral is about 50% saved. Before any further restoration and repair work can be done on the cathedral of Notre Dame, the scaffolding erected as part of the then restoration work must be removed. There are about 10,000 scaffolding tubes of different dimensions, 250 tonnes weight, which have been soldered together by the extreme heat of the raging fire. Removing the poles will be a huge and extremely delicate 'game' of Spillikins (or Mikado) where a tumbling steel rod could cause further damage.

Two new stands of scaffolding have been erected to north and south of the building. These were first used to place strengthening girdles of girders around the original scaffolding so it does not distort or give way as scaffolding poles are removed. Then the scaffolding stands will provide the base for a large girder spanning across the nave. From this 'bridge', rope access technicians (nicknamed 'squirrels') will descend and carefully saw through the soldered poles using a sabre saw that does not spark, the fragment to be cut being coated with a gel to prevent the dispersion of lead dust. The saw men will be directed as which pole to cut and remove next so that even weight distribution is maintained. It is hope that this work can start in February, providing the weather is dry and not too cold. A solid roof is being put above the vaulting to protect it during this stage.

How the scaffolding will be removed
How the scaffolding will be removed

There is still lots of rubble and debris on top of the vaulting, the remaining roofing over the nave. It is intended that this will be vacuumed by the squirrels using a solid floor built over the nave to support them and the machinery. It is hoped that this work will have finished by May or June 2020.

From the French organisation VISACTU, with a translation just below
Key numbers
The rebuilding
abelard says
that spire - la flèche
After the fire of 15th April 2019. Image credit: VISACTU
After the fire of 15th April 2019. Image credit: VISACTU

Translation: A fire was declared in the roof space before spreading throughout the roof.
The spire collapsed on itself at about 20h [8 pm] and all the wood structure appeared to ignite.
400 firemen came to the fire. After more than 4½ hours of fight, the firemen were able to save the two towers, but two-thirds of the roof was devasted.

Key numbers
Constructed during 182 years, from 1163 to 1345.
The most visited monument in Europe, the cathedral is visited by 13 to 14 million people a year.
Interior floor area: 4,800 m².
Total area covered: 5,500 m²
The cathedral can welcome up to 9,000 people at the same time.

Financing the rebuilding
So far, financial and other support offered includes :
  • the Pinault family (LMVH group, whose fashion labels include Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Gucci) has pledged €100 million
  • the Arnault family (owners of the group Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) have pledged €200 million.
  • the Bettencourt family (L'Oreal) has pledged €200 milion.
  • the Ile de France region pledges €10 million,
  • the mayor of Paris pledged €50 million.,
    while various business will contribute sums such as
  • Total, petrolchemical giant : €100 million
  • the Bougues brotherd, internet company founders  : 10 million euros
  • Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, Fimalac finance : 10 million euros for the spire
  • CapGemin, the French digital giant: €1 million to help the rebuilding
  • Vinci, major player in road, bridge and similar constructions, "proposes to provide part of the financing as part of the national subscription and by offering its employees to join the collective effort, to assist the architects of Historic Monuments in order to evaluate the necessary efforts, and to participate in the reconstruction if its contribution is considered useful by public decision-makers".
  • Groupama are offering 1,300 oak trees from their forest in Normandy.
abelard says
You may be wondering about the reports of 'treasures' being saved from the fire. Most of these were stored in the Treasury, not the main cathedral. As you will see in the plan below, the Treasury is part of the Sacristry, and built in the 19th century as part of the huge rebuilding and refurbishment supervised by Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc following the widespread destructions of the French Revolution.

Despite the apparent fragility, these cathedrals are immensely strong and, fundamentally, structurally sound, otherwise they would not be standing a thousand years later. Many have survived the viccisitudes of history, despite vandalism and miscalculations.

Naturally, the damage to the stained glass will be considerable, but the glass-makers' craft has advanced greatly over the last century and great efforts have been made to photograph and detail every part of historically important glass. Thus, the glass can be recovered to a great degree in our marvellous, modern world.

I am partticularly impressed by the tackling of the fire by General Jean-Marie Gontier. His quick and accurate decision-taking is very unusual in a civil servant.

four months after the fire at the cathedral of notre dame de paris

The whole forest supporting the roof went up in flames, melting and sometimes vapourising almost 200 tonnes of lead roof cladding. The spire burnt and collapsed with its base subsiding into the transept crossing below. However, most of the stone vaulting remains intact, though much weakened by both the fire's heat and the cold of the water used to extinguish the flames.

Plan, cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, showing areas of damage
Plan, cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, showing areas of damage

There is a large hole in the vaulting over the crossing of nave and transepts, probably ripped open by the fall of (Viollet-le-Duc's) spire. There are smaller vault holes in the nave and in the north transept. Thus, it is likely that the cathedral has escaped catastrophic damage.

Top of the burning spire of Notre Dame falls Top of the burning spire of Notre Dame falls Top of the burning spire of Notre Dame falls

From the end of August 2019, work to stabilise the cathedral restarted after major concerns about the level of lead contamination, precautionary measures put in place including hermetically sealing the interior of the building in order to prevent lead dust dispersig beyond the work site.

The works to consolidate the cathedral before restoration include
• Reinforcing wooden frames are being put under the flying buttresses,
• Temporary ceilings will be installed above and below the vault in order to control and clear the rubble.
• The scaffolding, put around the spire for the restoration work and now soldered by the fire, is being dismantled. 
All this work has to done carefully to avoid any rocks from falling, or creating an instability that would damage the Gothic structure.

The major restoration works include rebuilding the spire, the roof, the frame, and 15% of the vault.

Larger scale satellite view of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, showing the sacristry
Larger scale satellite view of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, showing the sacristry.
[Smaller scale satellite view]


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dimensions of Notre-Dame de Paris

Total length: 130 m/427 ft long
Transept length: 2.25 m/14 ft
Choir length: 11 m/36 ft
Total width: 48 m/158 ft wide
Height of roof: 43 m
Height of vault: 35 m/115 ft
Height of side aisles: 3 m
Height of spire: 96 m
Height of twin towers: 69 m/226ft
Lancets: over 16 m/50ft high
South tower great bell:
13 tons, with 500kg clapper, tolled only on ‘solemn’ occasions
Total floor area: 4,800 m²
Diameter of north and south [transept] rose windows: 13.1 m/42½ ft
Diameter of west rose: 9.70 m

1,300 oaks, representing 21 hectares of forest, were used in the timbers and woodwork.

jules maigret

At the western tip of the island, is the secluded Place Dauphine, a few steps from the police headquarters where Maigret had his office. Simenon lived round the corner and the Taverne Henri IV was his local. The Brasserie Dauphine was probably the Taverne. Those who enjoy the Maigret books and its main character may wish to visit this real-life heart of his fictional world.

For more about Maigret and 'his' books go to
The psychology of Georges Simenon and Jules Maigret -
reviews of all the 79 Maigret novels

For more on the Notre Dame de Paris and its history, go to
France - île de la cité, Paris:
in the context of Abelard and of French cathedrals


Notre Dame de Paris, a short history & description of the cathedral, with some account of the churches that preceded it
by Charles Hiatt

A useful, if rather scrappy, introduction to Notre-Dame cathedral.
Notre =(Dame de Paris by Charles Hiatt

George Bell & Sons, hbk, London, 1902

Marker at abelard.org

Sagwan Press, hbk, 2015

ISBN-10: 1298986761
ISBN-13: 978-1298986764
$22.95 [amazon.com] {advert}
£16.95 [amazon.co.uk] {advert}

Marker at abelard.org

Forgotten Books, pbk, 2017

ISBN-10: 1330618785
ISBN-13: 978-1330618783
amazon.com {advert}
amazon.co.uk {advert}

        Marker at abelard.org

Notre =(Dame de Paris by Charles Hiatt

        Marker at abelard.org

Notre =(Dame de Paris by Charles Hiatt

Les vitraux de Notre-Dame et de la Sainte Chapelle de Paris
by Marcel Aubert, Jean Verrier et al.
A wonderfully produced and illustrated catalogue raisonné of the windows of both the churches described above. The book could do with a few more colour plates and with writing in modern language, like English!
Notre =(Dame de Paris by Charles Hiatt

 Caisse National des Monuments Historiques, hbk, 1959
Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi - France, volume I

ISBN-10: x
ISBN-13: x

shipping weight: 2.5 kg/5.5 lb!
height: 32 cm/13 inches

$24.27 [amazon.com] {advert}
£15.99 [amazon.co.uk] {advert}


end notes

  1. The inverted v-shaped accent, called a circumflex, over the ‘I’ of Île, is used in French to indicate a silent ‘s’. Thus the French word ‘Île’ is very closely equivalent to the English word ‘Isle’.

  2. The name, Île de France, has changed its meaning from its orginal sense. Now, Île de France refers to a region that includes the eight départements of Ville de Paris, Haute-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne, Essonne, Yvelines, Val-d’Oise and Seine-et-Marne. Back in the tenth and eleventh centuries, Île de France refered to the domain of the Capetians, centred on the Île de de la Cité. They were often weaker than other great duchies in France

  3. The 91.4 metre/300 foot spire reportedly weighed 680 tonnes.

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