Notre-Dame de Paris, Disfigured but Standing, will be Rebuilt

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Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, disfigured by fire but still standing

Monday 15th April, 2019, Notre-Dame Cathedral was ravaged by a fire, apparently accidental, but its structure was saved and the fire under control.

Ravaged on Monday 15th April, 2019 by a fire , apparently accidental, Notre-Dame de Paris was disfigured. But it did not completely collapse thanks to the intervention of firefighters who managed to control the flames and save the structure of the building. 

Emmanuel Macron promised to “rebuild” it.

“The worst has been avoided even if the battle is not yet fully won,” said the head of state on the forecourt of the building. But “this cathedral, we will rebuild it,” he promised.

Many hours

In the middle of the night, firefighters announced that the fire, which took shortly before 7 pm, had been “controlled” but that there remained “residual fires to extinguish”.

It took them several hours to come to grips with the flames that made them fear at one point “to see the structure collapse,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Gabriel Plus, spokesman for the Paris Fire Department.

Despite everything, the “material balance is dramatic,” he adds before detailing: “the entire roof is stricken, the entire structure is destroyed, part of the vault collapsed, the spire does not exist anymore “.

Edouard Philippe and Emmanuel Macron, April 15, 2019.
Edouard Philippe and Emmanuel Macron, April 15, 2019. (© POOL / AFP / PHILIPPE WOJAZER)


The spire that overlooked this gothic jewel, the most visited monument in Europe, no longer exists, nor the century-old stained glass windows.

Marc Bernard, who lives in the rue d’Arcole, a few steps from Notre Dame, had to leave his apartment when the fire broke out.

Read also: The terrifying images of the fire of Notre-Dame de Paris

Returning a few hours later, in the middle of the night, he is dismayed at the damage: “it is total desolation, it will never look like before”.

Notre-Dame de Paris on fire, April 15, 2019.
Notre-Dame de Paris on fire, April 15, 2019. (© AFP / FRANCOIS GUILLOT)

Sadness “beyond words”

President Emmanuel Macron, who canceled his television post-major debate, said in a tweet, share the “emotion of a whole nation,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe expressing a sadness that goes “beyond words” .

Several foreign officials have also expressed their emotions, Donald Trump referring to “terrible images to see”, Angela Merkel “a symbol of France and our European culture” and London Mayor Sadiq Khan “heartbreaking scenes”. The Vatican, for its part, expressed “disbelief” and “sadness”.

Open inquiry

The fire, which took in the attic of the cathedral around 6.50pm, seems to be gone at the level of scaffolding installed on the roof.

The Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation by the head of “involuntary destruction by fire”, and it is the track of an accidental fire departure from the building site which “holds the attention of the investigators in the state of investigations”, a source close to the file said.

The construction workers were heard in the night by the investigators, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.

Around the Ile de la Cité in the heart of the capital, many Parisians came to sing and pray until the middle of the night.

Relics preserved

“A few minutes ago the security cordon was opened and we were able to walk in prayer procession to the cathedral. What is upsetting is to imagine that the heart of France beats here and burns, “says Etienne Vermersch, 28, who prayed much of the night.

“A high-place of the Catholic faith is burning,” lamented AFP the spokesman of the Bishops of France. Relics preserved within the building, the crown of thorns and the tunic of St. Louis have however been saved, according to the rector of the cathedral, Patrick Chauvet.

Notre-Dame, April 15, 2019.
Notre-Dame, April 15, 2019. (© AFP / THOMAS SAMSON)

12 million tourists

In 2017, 12 million tourists visited this jewel of Gothic architecture, which had been the subject of major work for several months.

Very popular with tourists, the cathedral continues to function as a religious building: five offices are celebrated daily, and seven on Sundays. With the celebrations and exceptional celebrations, more than 2000 offices resonate each year under its vaults.

Its arrow, erected on the four pillars of the transept, was one of the symbols of the French capital.

100 million euros from the Pinault family

The interior of the building was only touched, said MP LREM Sonia Krimi LREM, who was able to return. “The altar, the walls are all intact,” she said.

UNESCO, standing at the “side of France to safeguard and rehabilitate this priceless heritage”, inscribed in its world heritage, tweeted its director general, the former French Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay.

A national subscription will also be launched, confirmed Emmanuel Macron, to help a reconstruction that looks long and difficult. In the night, the Pinault family announced to release 100 million euros for Notre Dame.

“Years of work”

“We will be gone for years of work,” said the president of the Conference of Bishops of France (CEF), Eric de Moulins-Beaufort.

The building is world famous for its architecture but also thanks to the masterpiece of Victor Hugo, “Notre-Dame de Paris”, novel many times adapted to the cinema, in particular by the Disney studios, or in musical comedy.

This fire occurs on the first day of Holy Week celebrations leading to Easter, the main Christian holiday.

Notre Dame of Paris.
Notre Dame of Paris. (© AFP / Kun TIAN)

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