Lonely Planet Writer

A fund-raising project has begun to restore Paris' iconic Notre Dame Cathedral

The magnificent Cathedral of Notre Dame is undoubtedly a jewel in the crown of Paris. Dating back to the 12th century, this gothic structure cuts a foreboding figure located on an island in the middle of the city’s River Seine. One of the most popular landmarks in the world, it’s visited by an incredible 12 million people every year.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. Image by Mariusz Kluzniak/Getty Images

However, due to pollution and weather erosion, the cathedral is in need of some urgent restoration work. A French charity, ‘Friends of Notre Dame’ has been set up, with the aim of raising much-needed funds towards this massive reparations project. Michel Picaud is president of the group. “I was personally hired as a volunteer a year-and-a-half ago by the Archdiocese of Paris and the Cathedral”, he tells Lonely Planet.

Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, France

Notre Dame is the Cathedral of Paris, but also of all French people,” he continues. “All distances in France are counted from its entrance. It dates back to the 12th century and is a jewel of gothic architecture. It has been the location of major historical events across the centuries, from the bringing of Jesus’ crown of thorns by Saint Louis in the 13th century, to the crowning of Napoleon in the 19th century, and the Liberation of Paris by the Allies in 1944.”

France, Paris, Ile de la Cite, people attending mass at Notre Dame. Image by Getty Images

“However, the Cathedral’s stonework has been damaged by rain and pollution. No major restoration has been undertaken since the middle of the 19th century, with the exception of the facade in the 1990s. The main areas affected are the overall structure of the building, including the flying buttresses, the spire, the choir, the nave, the transept, the towers and the sacristy.”

The fund-raising project is well underway, and it’s hoped that fans of this iconic structure will be happy to support its restoration. To donate, head along to Friends of Notre Dame.