While editing these photos for the blog last month, I (along with the rest of the world) watched in horror as fire blazed through Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral. It seemed surreal, that the same majestic spire I’d angled my lens at a few months ago, was at that very moment toppling down engulfed in flames.
The Notre-Dame Cathedral is quintessentially Paris. It is kilometre zero, the point from which distance is measured in France, and the official centre of Paris. In the few times I’ve visited Paris, it has always loomed like a beacon, constantly present and majestic.
Considered a Gothic architectural masterpiece, the cathedral is most visited monument in France. It’s no surprise that the fire stirred such an emotional reaction from all over the world. It’s not only Parisians, millions of people from around the world share a personal connection to Notre-Dame.
I can’t recall what it was about our last trip , but I was very determined to go and see Paris from atop the Notre-Dame tower; in hindsight, I’m glad I persisted.
I even downloaded a fantastic app that lets you “stand in line” without having to stand in line physically (a virtual queue!). We got in line while wandering around Bastille and leisurely made our way towards Île de la Cîté. There was ample time for Berthillon ice cream and coffee before we were called up.
The climb up almost 400 steps on a narrow twisty spiral stone staircase is tough but not the worst windy staircase I’d ever climbed (that would be Copenhagen’s Church of Our Saviour tower).
The panoramic views of Paris from Notre-Dame tower is totally worth the climb, but also, being that up close to the ornate architecture, chimeras and gargoyles – which we learned were collectively called grotesques – was pretty cool.
While visiting Marie the bell at the belfry, we met a staff member, our brother from Senegal, who patiently answered all our questions and shared his extensive knowledge of the historic cathedral with us. I can’t tell you how wonderful and gracious this man was to us – he gave us a mini tour of some of the closed-off areas and this added to our experience tenfold.
The iconic flèche (spire), now gone, guarded by the twelve apostles looked grandiose and magnificent towering over the Seine and the city. I can’t imagine it no longer being there.
The Notre-Dame Cathedral is closed for the foreseeable future. I feel lucky to have had this opportunity to see the spire in its splendour. I’m sure whatever replaces it will be equally impressive; I do hope I’m fortunate again to see it and perhaps bump into my brother from Senegal, back at work.