Notre-Dame Construction Progress Update

After the completion of the Safety Phase in 2021, 2022 marks an important step forward as we rebuild and restore Notre-Dame Cathedral.  

Preliminary operations are already underway, like the major campaign to clean the interior of the cathedral. Over the next few months, the Établissement Public, the public agency in charge of managing the restoration, will issue calls for tender to source companies with expertise in the restoration of historical monuments to participate in the restoration. Outside of Notre-Dame Cathedral’s walls, the restoration of the Grand Organ and the cathedral’s works of art continues.

New timbers for Notre-Dame’s spire and roof

In the spring of 2021, 1,000 oak trees were selected and harvested. These trees will become the cathedral’s new spire and transept roof. From September 2021 to January 2022, 45 sawmills across France processed the trees into timbers. Little by little, each oak is stripped of its bark and cut into 36 cm sections for planking.  

Eight oak trees of exceptional size – 20 meters tall – will be transformed into timbers for the spire. The sawn wood is currently in storage centers where they are being dried and sorted. In mid-2022, the timbers will be transported to carpenters’ workshops to be assembled on a trial basis before final assembly on site next year, in 2023. 

Did you know? Viollet-le-Duc’s original spire was constructed in the interior of the cathedral and then hoisted by a crane into its place on the roof in the 1860s.

Cleaning the Cathedral

The cleaning of Notre-Dame Cathedral continues! The massive operation to clean the walls, ceilings, vaults, floors, and stained-glass windows began in October 2021 and will continue through the spring.

A thin layer of lead dust coated the cathedral’s interior in the aftermath of the fire. Cleaning and removing the lead dust conserves the integrity of Notre-Dame’s architectural elements and ensures a safe environment for the people working on the restoration. The work is carried out from the top down, to preserve the areas that have already been cleaned. 

The cleaning covers over 6,000 square meters of the cathedral’s interior and is done centimeter by centimeter with tiny brushes that have soft bristles. Once the dust is brushed off the surface, it is vacuumed up into backpacks worn by the cleaners. It is a meticulous and time-consuming process that requires the expertise of teams of stonemasons, sculpture and fine art restorers, locksmiths, ironworkers, and carpenters. This is also the first time that Notre-Dame Cathedral has been deep cleaned in this way!

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© Alexandra Lebon, courtesy of the Établissement Public

Additional Assessment on the Cathedral’s Exterior

An additional assessment will be done regarding the exterior facades of the cathedral, including an exterior cleaning of the stained-glass windows. Notre-Dame Cathedral’s exterior was in a dire state before the April 2019 fire. Years of weathering and pollution have eroded the stones, weakening the cathedral’s exterior. In some places, the stone is so soft it turns into sand at the touch. 

Apart from bracing the flying buttresses, no official decisions have been announced yet about restoring the exterior of the cathedral.

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Stay tuned for new updates!

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The Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris community helps make the cathedral’s restoration possible. Thanks to the generosity of friends like you, we completed the Safety Phase. Join us on this next phase of Notre-Dame de Paris’ restoration!


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