Level 1 | Level 2| Level 3

On April 15, a fire started inside Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. It is believed that the fire was accidentally caused by refurbishments which had been ongoing in the building. The fire began in the roof area of the cathedral and subsequently destroyed the vast majority of it, including the famous spire. The roof and spire were largely made of wood and as such, firefighters could do little to save them. Firefighters were able to save the main structure of the building, including the famous towers at the front of the cathedral. Thanks to the quick actions of the firefighters, the damage was limited and the core of the building was saved. Even the biggest of the famous rose windows, made in the 13th century, was remarkably left undamaged.

Construction on Notre Dame commenced in 1163 and the cathedral was completed in 1345. It is one of the oldest and most impressive pieces of architecture in the world. Each year, over 13 million people visit the cathedral, nearly double the number of visitors to the Eiffel Tower. It is an icon of France, Paris and French culture.

Notre Dame’s importance to France and the world was immediately clear in the aftermath of the fire. As the fire was still raging, two French billionaires pledged €300 million to the reconstruction of the cathedral. In the days since the fire, donations have been pouring in from around the world. To date, €850 million has been donated to the reconstruction effort, with the total still rapidly rising. President Macron has set a target of 5 years to rebuild and reopen the cathedral, although the feasibility of this goal has been debated.

The rebuilding of Notre Dame will prove to be a monolithic task. Some experts have estimated it will take decades to completely finish the reconstruction. However, due to the vast amount of money donated, others have defended President Macron’s goal. Claude Gauvard, a famous French medieval historian, was optimistic about the timeline. Speaking to France 24, she said “I’m ready to believe it”, “Five years is a challenge, it’s ambitious. But if everyone applies themselves, it’s possible.” There is extra incentive to have the refurbishment completed within the five-year timeline as Paris is hosting the 2024 Olympics. People are extra motivated to complete the project before this.

There is debate over how Notre Dame should be refurbished, especially when discussing the new spire. There are people who want it to look exactly the same, people who would like it to match the original medieval design and others who would like a modern, but respectful, interpretation to be added. Regardless, the path that is chosen will likely rely on practicality first. If France is serious about meeting the 2024 deadline, modern building techniques will need to be implemented in order to speed up the process.

Luckily, an art historian called Andrew Tallon created a digital map of Notre Dame in 2015. He used lasers to create every detail of the cathedral digitally. The laser map of the cathedral can be used to rebuild Notre Dame very accurately if this is what is decided. Unfortunately, Andrew Tallon died in 2018, without knowing the impact that his work would have in the near future.

Difficult words

Refurbishment (n): A renovation, or bringing something back to its original quality.

Commence (v): To start.

Aftermath (n): The time after something happens.

Monolithic (adj): Something large or massive.

Medieval (adj): Relating to the middle ages.

Interpretation (n): How something is explained or shown.

Practicality (n): How possible something is.

Implement (v): Put into effect.

Laser (n): A device that generates a thin line of light.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: 

American English: Audio Coming Soon!

Match the Synonym!

1. Refurbishment A. After-effects
2. Commence B. Explanation
3. Aftermath C. Middle Ages
4. Monolithic D. Possibility
5. Medieval E. Renovation
6. Interpretation F. Utilise
7. Practicality G. Light
8. Implement H. Massive
9. Laser I. Begin

True or False?

1. Notre Dame is the most famous cathedral in London.  T / F

2.  The fire was possibly caused by renovation work on the cathedral. T / F

3. Many people are thankful that the famous spire was saved.  T / F

4. The roof and spire were made steel. T / F

5. The two famous towers were saved by firefighters. T / F

6. More people visit Notre Dame annually than the Eiffel Tower. T / F

7. No money was donated for the repairs until 3 days after the fire. T / F

8. Experts have said it could take more than 10 years to completely reconstruct Notre Dame. T / F

9. France will host the 2024 Olympics.  T / F

10. Everyone agrees the cathedral should be reconstructed in the original medieval design. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. fire / roof / of / in / the / area / The / the / began / cathedral

2. largely / wood / The / spire / were / of / and / roof / made

3. able / main / save / Firefighters / structure / were / to / the

4. years / President Macron / of / has / set / target / a / 5 / rebuild / to

5. exactly / it / look / to / who / the same / There / are / want / people

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: 

American English: Audio Coming Soon!

Damage Accidentally Historian
Timeline Reconstruction Ambitious
Interpretation Estimated Architecture

On April 15, a fire started inside Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. It is believed that the fire was ___________________ caused by refurbishments which had been ongoing in the building. The fire began in the roof area of the cathedral and subsequently destroyed the vast majority of it, including the famous spire. The roof and spire were largely made of wood and as such, firefighters could do little to save them. Firefighters were able to save the main structure of the building, including the famous towers at the front of the cathedral. Thanks to the quick actions of the firefighters, the ______________ was limited and the core of the building was saved. Even the biggest of the famous rose windows, made in the 13th century, was remarkably left undamaged.

Construction on Notre Dame commenced in 1163 and the cathedral was completed in 1345. It is one of the oldest and most impressive pieces of _________________ in the world. Each year, over 13 million people visit the cathedral, nearly double the number of visitors to the Eiffel Tower. It is an icon of France, Paris and French culture.

Notre Dame’s importance to France and the world was immediately clear in the aftermath of the fire. As the fire was still raging, two French billionaires pledged €300 million to the ____________________ of the cathedral. In the days since the fire donations have been pouring in from around the world. To date, €850 million has been donated to the reconstruction effort, with the total still rapidly rising. President Macron has set a target of 5 years to rebuild and reopen the cathedral, although the feasibility of this goal has been debated.

The rebuilding of Notre Dame will prove to be a monolithic task. Some experts have __________________ it will take decades to completely finish the reconstruction. However, due to the vast amount of money donated, others have defended President Macron’s goal. Claude Gauvard, a famous French medieval historian, was optimistic about the timeline. Speaking to France 24, she said “I’m ready to believe it”, “Five years is a challenge, it’s ______________. But if everyone applies themselves, it’s possible.” There is extra incentive to have the refurbishment completed within the five-year ______________ as Paris is hosting the 2024 Olympics. People are extra motivated to complete the project before this.

There is debate over how Notre Dame should be refurbished, especially when discussing the new spire. There are people who want it to look exactly the same, people who would like it to match the original medieval design and others who would like a modern, but respectful, ________________ to be added. Regardless, the path that is chosen will likely rely on practicality first. If France is serious about meeting the 2024 deadline, modern building techniques will need to be implemented in order to speed up the process.

Luckily, an art ________________ called Andrew Tallon created a digital map of Notre Dame in 2015. He used lasers to create every detail of the cathedral digitally. The laser map of the cathedral can be used to rebuild Notre Dame very accurately if this is what is decided. Unfortunately, Andrew Tallon died in 2018, without knowing the impact that his work would have in the near future.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Have you ever been to Notre Dame? If not, would you like to go?
5. Have you ever read the book or seen the Disney movie “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”?
6. What is a famous landmark in your country?
7. Do you think your country would choose to rebuild a famous landmark if it was destroyed?
8. Have there been any disastrous events like this in your country?
9. Do you think the rebuilt cathedral should be designed exactly the same?
10. What are the oldest landmarks in your country?
11. There have been arguments about the donated money. People have said it should be used to help people around the world instead. What do you think about this?
12. Do you think the cathedral can be completed in 5 years?
13. Do you think it’s important to have the cathedral completed in time for the Olympics?
14. Is it important to save historical buildings?
15. Do you think a laser map should be created of all historical buildings around the world?
16. Why are historical buildings or objects important to humanity?
17. Are there any historical objects or locations you would like to see someday?
18. Does the age of an object or place make it more important?
19. Is religion important in your country?
20. Do you think there should be a punishment for the person who started the fire if it was an accident?