Paris: French appeal to Americans to help patch-up Notre-Dame cathedral

As Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris turns 854-years-old, the French are turning to Americans to seek financial help to save its crumbling features.

Paris: French appeal to Americans to help patch-up Notre-Dame cathedral
Photo: AFP
An integral and defining part of the Paris landscape, the world famous Gothic cathedral has weathered a revolution, two world wars and a topless feminist stunt…and she's showing signs of the strain. 
Vital repair work needs to be carried out to fix, among other things, a toppling gargoyle, cracks on the facade and the support structure for the church's famed stained glass windows. 
The list goes on…and on. 
While an appeal for donations has already been launched in France, a foundation set up by the Archbishop of Paris last year — Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris — is now specifically targeting American donors.
After the foundation received charity status at beginning of May from the American tax authorities, it can now receive untaxed donations and so the project is well and truly underway. 
The cathedral is looking for a total of around €150 million for repairs while the government currently donates €2 million a year. 
Senior Advisor Fundraising for Friends of Notre-Dame, Michel Picaud told The Local that turning to Americans for financial help was an obvious move given the amount of interest in the cathedral from across the pond.
“It was put it to us that Notre-Dame is a world monument and we could look to raise money for its repair from outside of France,” Picaud said.
“We receive many requests from Americans wanting to know if there is a channel they can use to donate,” he said. “The cathedral is a big part of Paris' history but also a big part of American history in the city.”  
Friends of Notre-Dame will hold fundraising events in Paris as well as go on a US trip next spring, when it will visit Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Washington, DC in an attempt to raise funds. 
When Paris was liberated from occupying forces by French and American troops, the celebrations took place in front of Notre Dame, and today it is a stone's throw from legendary English bookshop Shakespeare and Company.
The good news for Notre-Dame is that Americans have a history of stepping in to save historic churches in France. In 2013, THe Local reported on the story of a Texas oilman donated $100,000 to fix the roof of a 13th-century church in the southwestern French town of Aurignac.
To donate to the renovations and find out more about Friends of Notre-Dame, you can visit their website here



Notre-Dame restoration work begins as Paris cathedral on track to reopen in 2024

France's Notre-Dame cathedral is finally ready to undergo restoration work more than two years after a blaze ravaged the heritage landmark, and remains on course to reopen in 2024, authorities said Saturday, following months of painstaking work to secure the building.

Notre-Dame restoration work begins as Paris cathedral on track to reopen in 2024

The great mediaeval edifice survived the inferno on April 15th, 2019, but the spire collapsed and much of the roof was destroyed.

The focus until now had been on making the cathedral safe before restoration work could begin, which included the strenuous task of removing 40,000 pieces of scaffolding that were damaged in the blaze.

“The cathedral stands solid on its pillars, its walls are solid, everything is holding together,” said Jean-Louis Georgelin, head of the public entity tasked with rebuilding the cathedral.

Scaffolding in the interior of the building as the restoration phase begins. Photo by Thomas SAMSON / POOL / AFP

“We are determined to win this battle of 2024, to reopen our cathedral in 2024. It will be France’s honour to do so and we will do so because we are all united on this goal.”

The aim is to celebrate the first full service in the cathedral on April 16th, 2024 – five years after the fire – despite delays caused by the pandemic and the lead that spread during the blaze.

The Notre-Dame spire, a later addition to the medieval building, was completely destroyed in the blaze. Photos by AFP

Authorities will now call for tenders to select the companies to carry out the restoration work.

The cathedral’s interior walls and floors will also undergo “a thorough cleaning process” later this month.

Notre-Dame’s famous Grand Organ is already being restored, with its 8,000 pipes dismantled and sent to organ builders all over France.

It is expected to be put together again in October 2023, said Georgelin, the former head of France’s armed forces who was appointed by President Emmanuel Macron to oversee rebuilding efforts.