Five artists tell the fascinating story of how Notre-Dame was saved

The huge restoration project undertaken by researchers, artisans and craftspeople is celebrated in an illustrated hoarding, located outside the Paris cathedral’s construction site

In April 2019, a fire broke out inside the iconic Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, ravaging the historic building and severely damaging its structure. Fifteen hours later, the blaze was quelled, and before long donations began pouring in from around the world to help rebuild what was left of the cathedral.

An extensive project, which looked to stabilise the structure, salvage its contents, and restore the parts that had been completely destroyed, took place over the next two years, with the preliminary stage of the restoration reaching completion in the summer of 2021. The cathedral is set to reopen in 2024 following further work.

Top image: Sandrine Martin; above: François Schuiten
Sandrine Martin
Zeina Abirached

In order to convey the size and complexity of this undertaking, the Éstablissement Public – the public entity tasked with repairing the Notre-Dame – and the Cité de la Bande Dessinée (Centre for Comics and Images) commissioned five artists to tell the story of its restoration.

Exhibited on a hoarding outside of the Notre-Dame construction site, these artworks each focus on a different aspect of the project – from the preparation and planning, to the execution of various intricate jobs around the cathedral, such as installing support beams and dismantling fire-ravaged scaffolding.

Mathieu Sapin
Adjim Danngar
Notre Dame illustrated hoarding project
Photo by Patrick Burgoyne

The five artists – Zeina Abirached, Adjim Danngar, Sandrine Martin, Mathieu Sapin and François Schuiten – use their respective comic strip styles and methods of storytelling to communicate the important and skilled work that was carried out.

Their artworks reveal the unique combination of cutting-edge technology and traditional know-how that’s been needed to painstakingly restore Notre-Dame.