I wasn’t expecting to hear when I picked up the phone is “Notre Dame is on fire.” Romain drove by the cathedral and saw the fire in its early stages. Immediately after I noticed the smell of smoke coming from my open windows. I asked him if it was bad, and he responded “very.”
First View of the Fire
As soon as I went outside I noticed the huge cloud of smoke over the Institut de France. Romain arrived on his scooter and we walked to the Pont du Carrousel to get a better view. It was there that I first saw the massive flame in between the two towers. People on the street still had no idea what was going on or where the smoke was coming from. I think the last place anyone would’ve guessed would be Notre Dame.
As we moved closer to the Pont des Arts I noticed a Vedettes de Paris boat go by. It was completely filled with passengers, yet very few seemed aware of what was going on just behind them. We walked down by the river across from the Île de la Cité to approach Notre Dame. When we arrived, it was easy to see that this was a massive fire. We quickly became aware that it wouldn’t be easy to control because of its height and the wind.
During the Fire
Romain and I didn’t know what to do. We joined the crowds watching in silence, helpless, as Our Lady of Paris burned.
We watched as the brave firefighters attempted to stop the fire, a task that ultimately took almost 12 hours.
It was absolutely devastating and heartbreaking. For Paris, for France, for Catholics, for the world. I’ve never experienced anything like it before and hope never to again.
It eventually became too difficult to watch, so we left, unsure if we would ever see the building again. There was fear that the structure wouldn’t be able to sustain the damage caused by the heat.
The structure of the cathedral survived thanks to the incredible work of the Pompiers de Paris. It’s truly a miracle. I teared up this morning when I saw an image from inside Notre Dame – alter and cross still standing.
As horrific as yesterday was, it’s once again a reminder to never take anything for granted. So much can change in an instant. We are all really so lucky that no one was severely harmed as a result of the fire.
Favorite Notre Dame Photos before the Fire
Below are a few photos from before the fire. The first is from December 2018 with the Christmas Tree, truly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. The second is from February 2019, and last series is from April in Paris 2019, less than two weeks before the fire.