Top – What Notre-Dame means to the French

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People cry and pray as they look at flames burning the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, 15 April 2019

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EPA

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Watching the cathedral go up in flames is deeply upsetting for the locals

No different website represents France fairly like Notre-Dame.

Its essential rival as a nationwide image, the Eiffel Tower, is little greater than a century previous. Notre-Dame has stood tall above Paris for the reason that 1200s.

It has given its title to one of many nation’s literary masterpieces. Victor Hugo’s novel Hunchback of Notre-Dame is understood to the French merely as Notre Dame de Paris.

The final time the cathedral suffered main harm was in the course of the French Revolution, when statues of saints have been hacked by anti-clerical hotheads. The constructing survived the 1871 Commune rebellion, in addition to two world wars, largely unscathed.

It’s not possible to overstate how surprising it’s to look at such a permanent embodiment of our nation burn.

Locals are usually not well-known for his or her sunny disposition, however few can stroll alongside the banks of the Seine within the central a part of the capital with out feeling their spirits rise on the majestic bulk of Notre-Dame.

It is likely one of the few sights certain to make a Parisian be ok with dwelling there.

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Media captionThe foremost operation to attempt to save the constructing

Like all cherished locations in all places, it isn’t one residents go to fairly often. Within the three many years I spent in my native metropolis, I am unable to have been inside Notre-Dame greater than three or 4 occasions – after which solely with international guests.

There are various of these. The cathedral isn’t just the preferred vacationer website in Western Europe. Eight centuries after its completion, it’s also nonetheless a spot of worship – about 2,000 providers are held there yearly.

However it’s also far more than a non secular website. President Emmanuel Macron has expressed the shock of a “entire nation” on the hearth. As Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo stated, Notre Dame is “a part of our widespread heritage”.

A lot of these trying on as flames engulf the constructing are in tears. Their dismay is shared by believers and non-believers alike in a nation the place religion has lengthy ceased to be a binding pressure.

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