Sort by *
The completion of the protection work, the key considerations
of the restoration and the challenges of the reopening
Second assessment
Public thematic report
October 2022
Executive Summary
Since 1 January 2020, the conservation and restoration work on Notre-Dame de Paris
cathedral, following the fire on 15 April 2019, has been entrusted to the public agency
Notre-Dame de Paris
(“Rebuild Notre
Dame de Paris”). It was set up for this purpose and its main
formalised in its contract on targets and performance
is to reopen the cathedral for
worship and visitors by the end of 2024. The huge wave of generosity and sponsorship after the
fire has continued with the confirmation of pledges (98% of which are now contracted), the arrival
of new donations and the arrangement of skill-based sponsorship for the public agency. Cash
donations totalled €841.5m at the end o
f 2021, with donations in kind and skills sponsorship
totalling at least €5m. These help to reduce the financial cost of the work and cover part of the work
on public information and promoting heritage professions.
Timetable for the main phases of the work
Source: Court of Accounts
Donations from the national contribution, collected by the foundations designated by law, are
paid to the public institution as the work progresses, in accordance with the provisions of the
agreements signed with the Ministry of Culture. They account for three quarters of the funds needed
to finance the project ownership and the works. Donations collected directly by the agency make
up the balance of the funding.
The Court, which in this report follows up on the recommendations made in its previous report
of 2020
, notes that only the rent for the head office is subsidised by the Ministry of Culture from
budgetary appropriations.
Protection work completed under satisfactory conditions despite lead-
related constraints
The work to protect the cathedral, undertaken immediately after the fire by the Regional
Directorate of Cultural Affairs of Île-de-France, then by the public agency, under the urgent
emergency regime facilitating the award of contracts, was completed in 2021 at a tota
l of €151m.
This amount is slightly lower than the budget that was revised in 2020 to take into account all of
Court of Accounts,
Conservation and restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral
First assessment
, public
thematic report, September 2020.
the damage caused by the fire, the extension of the project due to the pandemic and, above all,
the consequences of the lead pollution after the fire.
The treatment of this pollution was successfully carried out and is a priority for the agency,
although the lack of precise regulations applicable to lead pollution has meant that the provisions
intended for housing and industry have had to be applied, which are partly unsuitable for work on
historic monuments. This lack of regulation also applies to the possible treatment of rainwater after
the work has been completed.
Restoration work should continue after reopening to address issues that
predate the fire
The studies undertaken starting in March 2020 on the cathedral’s state of health and the
diagnosis established by the chief architect of historic monuments in 2021 have enabled the
adoption of a master plan for the reconstruction and restoration work required to reopen the
cathedral in 2024. The choice of an identical reconstruction of the spire, as close as possible to the
pre-fire state for the roof structure and in line with the initial materials, was made and unanimously
approved by the national commission for heritage and architecture.
The estimated cost in May 2022 for all of this work, including provisions and the enhancement
of the site and its expertise, is €552m, in addition to the €151m incurred during the conservation
phase. This work also concerns the treatment of certain issues that predate the fire and are closely
linked to the restoration of the cathedral’s interior and the clean
-up of lead pollution.
Restoration of the cathedral, financial forecasts (in
€m) in May 2022
Expenditure items
Restoration phase ensuring the reopening of the cathedral in 2024
Project management and other intellectual services
Showcasing the site and its expertise
Project ownership
Provision for contingencies and unforeseen events
Provision for timetable risks
Provision for price increases
IN 2024
Source: EP-RNDP
It also provides an opportunity to improve reception in the cathedral, which is not financed
by the public agency and the national contribution, and is funded either by the Centre des
Monuments Nationaux or through donations received for this purpose by the Notre Dame
The estimated cost of the restoration work, including various provisions for contingencies
and price revisions, should leave a substantial amount available, the exact amount of which will be
determined after the results of all calls for tenders. This available amount could, with the agreement
of the major patrons and foundations, be used to treat pre-fire issues on the exterior parts of the
cathedral. It must be possible to assess these issues and prioritise emergencies before the 2024
deadline in order to assess the cost and define the financing arrangements. These could be
inspired by the partnership mode set up with the Notre Dame Foundation before the fire.
Estimated amount of restoration work related to pre-fire issues (in
Issues to address
Estimated amounts
Restoration of the sacristy and presbytery
Exterior restoration of the forechoir, including arch-
Exterior restoration of the nave (North and South)
External restoration of the transept (north and south
Cleaning and restoration of the western pillar
Source: EP-RNDP
Questions requiring rapid responses to ensure a reopening under
satisfactory conditions in 2024
The public agency, which has obtained the temporary transfer of the
cathedral’s state
management, has undertaken studies to plan ahead for the monument’s reopening. As
recommended by the Court in its previous audit
, this would provide an opportunity to resolve
situations inherited from the past, which make its management complex, and to bring it into line
with the legal provisions on religious buildings. In this context, the role of the Centre des Monuments
Nationaux, a signatory of the October 2019 agreement with central government on the
management of cathedrals, will need to be clarified during the discussions. Similarly, it is important
for all of the human and financial resources necessary for safety to be determined before the
reopening to the public and for the role of the Bâtiments de France architect, curator of the
monument, to be specified in the context of the agreement transferring the property’s management
to the public agency.
The decree establishing the agency gave it a strong executive presidency, as well as a set
of particularly active advisory bodies that contribute to the quality of the decision-making processes.
The existence of an audit committee open to outside figures, which is unusual in public
administrative agencies, is an asset in terms of the quality of its work, as is the role played by the
foundations, even beyond their simple obligation to inform donors in the works assessment
process. The agency’s operating budget is under control and its staffing levels are within the target
of 40 jobs set when it was created. However, it is struggling to retain some of its staff for positions
subject to strong competition. This is not yet affecting the preparation and proper execution of
The regular provision of information by the foundations and the public agency to the many
donors, in various forms, meets the legal obligations and enables them to maintain a connection
Court of Accounts,
Conservation and restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral
First assessment
with the cathedral’s restoration work. It also provides an opportunity for the public agency to
promote art and heritage trades, in accordance with one of its missions, to which it plans to allocate
significant resources, thanks in particular to the sale of the head office of the Institut Supérieur des
Métiers, two thirds of the proceeds from which have been passed to it.
The conditions to ensure the reopening of Notre-Dame in 2024 therefore seem to be in place.
The risks to the timetable have been analysed in detail and are regularly monitored. The cathedral,
which will be returned to use as a place of worship by this date, will also see a growing flow of
visitors, which could reach an estimated 14 million, two million more than before the fire. This would
make Notre-Dame de Paris one of the most visited monuments in France. These larger visitor
numbers, which the Court recently noted had consequences for the conservation of monumental
heritage and the quality of visits
, constitutes a future liability.
Average number of visitors per day
Source: Court of Auditors according to the Rectorate of Notre-Dame de Paris
Reading note: extrapolation to 11,500,000 annual visitors, i.e. 29,000 visitors per day from Monday to
Friday and 39,000 visitors/day on Saturdays and Sundays.
Beyond this question, the public authorities, chief among them central government, must
rapidly initiate a process of reflection on the future of this prestigious site. Before the fire, the
reception conditions at Notre-Dame de Paris were not commensurate with one of the most iconic
and visited monuments in France, whether in terms of tourist reception, cultural mediation or
Court of Accounts,
Central government policy in favour of monumental heritage
, thematic public report, June 2022.
Area to be developed
Source: Court of Auditors based on a presentation to the National Commission for Heritage and Architecture (CNPA)
This is why the Court calls on the Ministry of Culture to rapidly initiate discussions with the
various partners concerned in order to prepare a new reception framework worthy of this
prestigious monument.
Action taken in response to the 2020 audit
Recommendation No. 1: Without waiting for the cathedral to reopen, initiate discussions
between all parties concerned by the ownership and operation of the monument, in particular to
implement the provisions of the agreement of 18 October 2019 concluded between the Ministry of
Culture and the Centre des Monuments Nationaux (CMN).
(Ministry of Culture, Centre des
Monuments Nationaux).
Not implemented
Recommendation No. 2: Conduct an inventory of all objects contained in the cathedral in
order to specify the responsibilities for their restoration
(Ministry of Culture)
Recommendation no. 3: Initiate an administrative investigation into the circumstances
surrounding the fire of 15 April 2019, failing which, immediately identify together with all of the
stakeholders concerned, beyond the ministry’s departments alone, the lessons to learn
operationally from this incident at all levels
(Ministry of Culture)
Refusal to implement for administrative investigation, implementation on operational
Recommendation No. 4: Set up a cost accounting system within the public agency to provide
each of the organisations collecting donations with detailed information on the use of funds from
the national campaign and to meet the obligations of French legislation on public generosity, as
well as the specific rules of foreign foundations
(Ministry of Culture, public agency)
Recommendation No. 5: Provide directly from the budget to the public agency in charge of
the conservation and restoration of Notre-Dame an annual subsidy for public service charges
intended to finance all of its operating costs
(Ministry of Culture)
Partial implementation for rent only
New recommendations
Define the legal framework applicable to heritage sites faced with the presence and use of lead
(Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty,
Ministry of Labour, Full Employment and Integration, Ministry of Health and Prevention)
Arbitrate the entire restoration programme for the cathedral and, to this end, before the 2024
deadline, conduct an inventory of all of the monument’s issues, prioritise the urgent treatments
and establish their costs and financing
(EP-RNDP, Ministry of Culture)
Determine the conditions for operating the cathedral once it is reopened for worship and visits,
and establish a framework for consultation between all stakeholders
(Ministry of Culture)
Designate a single operational security manager
(Ministry of Culture)
Immediately draw up a development plan for the cathedral, commensurate with the importance
of this monument and the expected level of visitor numbers
(Ministry of Culture, CMN)
Integrate the development of the forecourt into an overall plan for the enhancement of the
cathedral and ensure that the schedule of works is compatible with the restoration work
(Ministry of Culture, CMN)
Examine the possibilities of setting up a museum on the work and the methods of its
(Ministry of Culture, CMN)