Puzzling Treasures

Track the Funding Progress to Restore Priceless Artifacts

Inside Notre-Dame Cathedral there are priceless art and artifacts.
Known as the most visited monument in Paris, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris is currently undergoing a safety phase restoration. The target date for the completion of this phase is 2024 and the rebuilding itself will begin at the end of the year.

Are you wondering what’s happening “Inside Notre-Dame Cathedral” also known as Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris?

You’ll find up-to-date information about the restoration at friendsofnotredamedeparis.org and restorenotredame.org, where you can track the progress and try your hand at an interactive puzzle as the restoration of priceless artifacts and paintings continues. Michel Picaud, a native Parisian, amateur archaeologist, and President of Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris, is one of many worldwide supporters who is raising money to fund the restoration. He is also instrumental in keeping you informed of new developments.

“We have developed a puzzle of the most beautiful artifacts, statues, and paintings of the cathedral, which is accessible to our friends from all over the world,” Picaud said.

Michel Picaud via email

Picaud has always been attracted to Notre-Dame, one of France’s most beloved landmarks and as France recently opened its doors to vaccinated tourists, you can once again enjoy most attractions the City of Light offers. However, the cathedral is closed to visitors during the restoration.


With considerable enthusiasm, Picaud accepted a challenge by the archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, to lead the United States fundraising efforts to restore the cathedral. Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds to accelerate the restoration of the iconic Gothic cathedral and its precious artifacts. Picaud joins more than 24,000 friends worldwide in more than 80 countries who support the project that began before the fire on April 15, 2019.

“The fundraising campaign started before the blaze and completely changed after the fire and relies on the fundraising events organized with potential donors in the main cities of the US.”

Michel Picaud

Fundraising is vital to continue the restoration and to ensure a financial basis for the maintenance afterward. He also noted In-person fundraising events were replaced by virtual events since the beginning of the pandemic.

This photo taken before the devastating fire on April 15, 2019, shows the ornate rose windows and other decorative features that make this cathedral one of the most visited monuments in the world.

What are a few of the obstacles the restoration and fundraising teams have faced as they diligently work to restore the cathedral? The fire and pandemic were major hurdles.

Michel noted,

“Lead decontamination after the melting of the covering of the roof and of the spire: 300 tons of lead melted caused it. Afterward, the covid pandemic caused a few weeks of interruption of the works in the spring of 2020,” he said. “Lastly, the removal of the burnt scaffolding of the spire was critical because of its role in the whole structure of the building.”

JB Lassus and E Viollet le Duc led the last restoration in the mid-1800s which was deemed critical and dire, but according to Picaud, the stone used in the 19th-century restoration was of a lesser quality than the stone used in the original construction in the middle ages.

“For instance, there was a quarry used in the Middle Ages on Montagne Sainte Genevieve on the left bank which was a very good quality stone but it was no longer in service in the 19th century. Hence, the use of quarries further away from Paris and of lower quality.”

Notre-Dame Pre fire interior rib vault (Photo Credit: Pascal Lemaitre)
Notre-Dame pre-fire interior rib vault (Photo Credit: Pascal Lemaitre)

With the target completion date set for 2024, Picaud said the restoration team is currently completing the safety phase of the cathedral, which encompasses the safety measures taken after the fire to avoid additional damage. The groundwork to prepare for the rebuilding itself will begin at the end of the year.

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Picaud explained the project management team must respect the last known state of the building, which in this case, is a large-scale restoration Eugene Viollet le Duc led.

“This dictates what can be done to the structure using the full documented works of the XIXth century,” he said.

What is being done to avoid another catastrophe like the 2019 fire?

“Very strong security measures have been put in place to avoid another catastrophe. They cover fire security, access to the building, lead decontamination, etc.”

What is the estimated cost to renovate and restore Notre-Dame?

The estimated cost of the safety phase project is (€165 million) but the cost of the reconstruction until 2024 is currently assessed on the basis of the detailed project of the project managers, according to Picaud.

He said,

“The full restoration beyond 2024 and until the end of the decade will require another additional budget.”

Inside Notre-Dame Cathedral work continues to restore the one of the France's historic cathedrals.
As a World Heritage Site, project managers must respect the last known state of the Notre-Dame Cathedral, which in this case is the large restoration undertaken in the middle of the XIXth century and completed under the lead of Eugene Viollet le Duc. Meanwhile, work continues inside to restore one of France’s historic cathedrals.

Beyond the safety phase, Michel explained the project also includes the restoration of priceless art, specifically one of the 11 mays he described as wonderful paintings of the sixteenth century that adorn the cathedral and one of the 11 tower’s grotesques statues. The price tag to restore those will cost on average $100,000 and $10,000, respectively. Additional examples of artifacts in need of restoration and funding can be found at restorenotredame.org.

Many thanks to Michel Picaud for leading the United States fundraising team and sharing updates in Inside Notre-Dame Cathedral.

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