Sort by *
6 October 2022
On 15 April 2019, a fire broke out at Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, destroying part of the
monument and threatening its survival. Following this disaster, a wave of solidarity made it
possible to raise the funds necessary for its preservation and restoration through a national
contribution. This momentum has continued with the confirmation of pledges, 98% of which are
now contracted. As such, cash donations totalled €841.5m at the end of 2021, plus donations in
kind and in the form of skills sponsorship worth at least €5m. These help to red
uce the financial
cost of the work and cover part of the missions on public information and promoting heritage
professions. A specific public agency was created by law and since 1 January 2020 has been in
charge of the work, the aim being to reopen in 2024. In accordance with the commitments made
by the Court of Accounts when it published its first report in September 2020, a new audit was
conducted at the end of the conservation work
as the restoration work got under way
on the
conditions under which it was carried out and its financing. The Court has made seven audit
recommendations, following those suggested in 2020, aimed at ensuring the restoration of the
entire cathedral and preparing for its reopening, drawing on the lessons of the past, both in terms
of safety and the quality of reception.
Protection work completed under a lead pollution constraint
Work to protect the cathedral was completed in 2021 at a cost of €151m, slightly less than the budget
revised in 2020 to take into account the consequences of the pandemic and lead pollution. Although
this pollution was successfully treated, the lack of precise regulations led to provisions on lead
intended for housing and industry being applied to the site, which were partly unsuitable for work on
historic monuments. With discussions on this subject ongoing for a decade and additional
expenditure potentially incurred as part of the restoration, the Court calls for the urgent definition of
a legal framework applicable to heritage sites faced with the presence and use of lead.
Restoration work should continue to treat issues that predate the fire
The estimated cost in May 2022 for all of the work required to reopen the cathedral, including
provisions and the enhancement of the site and its expertise, is €552m, as well as the €151m for the
conservation phase. In addition to this work, the donations received should make it possible to
undertake a comprehensive restoration of the cathedral and address the issues that predate the fire.
To ensure the project’s co
ntinuity, the assessment of these issues and the prioritisation of
emergencies must be carried out before the 2024 deadline, in order to assess the cost and define the
financing methods between central government, foundations and the sponsors whose agreement
needs to be obtained.
A public agency suited to its missions and respect for the provisions on the use of funds received
from public generosity
The public agency is suited to its mission; the strong executive presidency written into its founding
decree has not prevented the proper functioning of the various particularly active bodies, which,
structured around the board of directors, ensure the proper use of the funds received. A cost
accounting system ensures the traceability of expenses, and regular information is provided to donors
by the institution and the foundations in compliance with the texts governing the appeal to public
generosity. The risks to the timetable have been analysed in detail and monitored regularly, and the
conditions to ensure that the cathedral reopens in 2024 now appear to be in place.
Clarifications needed to ensure the reopening under satisfactory conditions
The public agency has obtained, on a temporary basis, the transfer of state management of the
cathedral. While the latter has undertaken studies to plan ahead for its technical management when
it reopens, the responsibilities of the various stakeholders at that time
the Diocese of Paris, the
Centre des Monuments Nationaux, the Bâtiments de France architect
must be defined as soon as
possible, and in particular the organisation of security, which cannot be postponed beyond that date.
The Court reiterates that the complex situations inherited from the past must be resolved and that
there must be compliance with the legislation on religious buildings. The matter of the quality of
reception must also be planned, as this monument welcomed 12 million visitors before the fire. These
large visitor numbers, which could increase by two million from 2024, could be seen as a liability, as
work will still be under way (restoration and development of the forecourt). The Court therefore calls
on central government to reflect on the management of these visitors in a wider area, together with
the clergy and the City of Paris, in order to develop a new reception framework commensurate with
the prestige of this monument.
Read the report
Emmanuel Kessler
Director of Communications
+33 (0)1 42 98 55 62
Julie Poissier
Head of Press Relations
01 42 98 97 43
06 87 36 52 21
Cour des comptes
Cour des comptes