Notre-Dame Fire

A lesson based on two news reports about the Notre-Dame cathedral

The Fire

Before you watch

1  Discuss the following questions.

  1. What is Notre-Dame de Paris famous for? Why is it considered a jewel of world heritage?
  2. What do you know about the fire of 15 April 2019 and the current restoration work?

While watching

2  You are going to watch a news report made on 16 April 2019. Which of the following events and people are going to be mentioned? Guess!

  1. World War II
  2. English King Henry VIII
  3. European wars of religion
  4. William the Conqueror
  5. The President of France
  6. The French Revolution
  7. The American President
  8. Victor Hugo

3  Watch the video and check your ideas. Make notes about the events and people mentioned in the news report. What is said about them?

4  Watch the video again and mark the sentences true (T) or false (F). Correct the false sentences.

  1. The cathedral’s spire was badly damaged in the fire.
  2. It took 100 years to build the Notre-Dame Cathedral.
  3. Most of the people gathered in the centre of Paris were watching the fire in silence.
  4. The cause of the fire isn’t clear yet, but the police have already begun an investigation.
  5. The basic stone structure of the Cathedral hasn’t been destroyed by the blaze.
  6. Notre Dame de Paris offered a vision of France that seemed eternal.
  7. The Notre Dame Cathedral was greatly influenced by Westminster Abbey.
  8. During the Revolution some parts of the Notre Dame Cathedral were seriously damaged

Restoration Work

Before you watch

5  Discuss the following question

What do you think are the biggest challenges that the people in charge of rebuilding the cathedral are facing? 

While watching

6  Watch the video about the restoration of Notre-Dame.  Make notes about:

  1. the scale of damage caused by the fire (What was destroyed? What parts of the cathedral were spared?)
  2. the current restoration work (When is the deadline? What has been done so far? What are the general principles which underlie the restoration work? What materials and techniques are being used?)
  3. the people in charge of rebuilding the cathedral
  4. the way new technologies are being used in restoration work
  5. the unexpected scientific revelations

7  Now use the plan above and your notes to summarise the video.

After watching

8  Discuss the following question.

In the second video, it is said that the structure of the cathedral will be as close to the original as possible. However, before this decision was made, numerous suggestions had been put forward as to how the cathedral could be re-imagined and modernised. Do some research to find out more about the debate and some of the restoration projects that were proposed. Here’s one of the articles you may find interesting.

Do you think it was the right decision to restore Notre-Dame exactly as it was? Why (not)?


9  Imagine it is year 2019  now and the debate over the future of Notre-Dame is still going on. Choose one of the restoration projects that has been proposed and prepare a short presentation about it:

  • provide some general information about the design
  • explain what ideas the architect wanted to convey through these architectural forms
  • express your opinion of the project and explain why your listeners should vote for or against it.

This lesson was created by Tatiana Shustilova, an English teacher and materials writer.

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