I must have taken hundreds upon hundreds of photos of Notre Dame de Paris over the past twenty-five years.

When I moved from the 11th arrondissement on the Right Bank to the 5th arrondissement on the Left Bank and discovered that Our Lady of Paris was just a ten-minute stroll along the quai of the Seine from chez moi, I couldn’t believe my great fortune.
Every day for the next fifteen years of my life in this quartier, I made it a point to pay a visit to the Cathedral – just to make sure she was still there.
She is still there.

When Philippe and I had to move out of our flat ten years ago, I was determined to stay close to the Cathedral. Mission accomplished.
I continue to make my daily treks to Notre Dame de Paris. And I continue to snap away.

I have taken hundreds upon hundreds of photos of Our Lady of Paris.
Philippe laughs at me when I return from my daily pilgrimage : « Quoi!? Pas une autre photo de Notre Dame?? »  
How I wish I had taken more!

Monday night’s fire at Notre Dame brought the world to its knees and left us all shocked and horrified. How could this be happening!!
We were in disbelief as we first noticed billows of smoke from the direction of the Seine and then spotted the spire and roof being whipped by flames. There was a sickening silence as crowds gathered and watched, helpless. 
We feared the worst when the spiral collapsed and one of the towers caught fire. 
The very next day, hope brightened our spirits. There was much to be thankful for! Everyone was evacuated before the flames spread; the structure of the Cathedral is intact; Notre Dame can and will be rebuilt – significant funds have already been donated. And to think that the spire statues were taken down a couple of weeks ago to be restored and were spared the fire! 

I finally had the courage to visit Notre Dame after the fire. Thursday’s ceremony at Hotel de Ville to honor the Cathedral provided the impetus. 

Throngs of people filled the sidewalks along the quai, snapping photos. 
I was nervous as I approached and held my breath… But when I saw her, all my anxieties vanished and my spirits soared! 
Notre Dame remains as majestic and glorious as ever! And she was surrounded by thousands of admirers who, with great reverence, stood silent before her. 
It will take years to restore her but Our Lady of Paris will shine again.
We look forward to celebrating the reopening of Notre Dame! And who knows? Perhaps you can be here with us…!
Notre-Dame de Paris is eternal...
After the fire: April 18th 2019
After the fire: April 18th 2019 South side transept
After the fire: April 18th 2019 back side
Emails came pouring in from guests, friends, family, acquaintances… We want to thank you all for sharing your tears and sorrows, and for being here and offering your support. 
We would like to share with you a few of these emails along with some of photos of Notre Dame de Paris.
Wishing you Joyeuses Pâques! (Happy Easter!)
Our dear friend Jane forwarded this quote from Adam Gopnik (The New Yorker) :
(referring to Montaigne)   That he took the cathedral’s towers as his instance of something permanently entrenched, impossible to remove, is just one indication of how central the Paris cathedral is to the French imagination.
From Montaigne to Matisse—who painted it often—it’s just present. Less sublime or celebrated among the great French Gothic cathedrals than Chartres, and not a martyr, as Amiens and Reims—both of which were shelled during the First World War—were thought to be, Notre-Dame was just there.
Jane added : 
When I fought the crowds to go down there, I was again struck by how There Notre Dame is . . . .damaged, yes, but still very much there.
 A Francophile friend Suzanne lifted our spirits with this story of Monday’s fire :
I was shopping at a Target when I received a text from a friend with the news.  Just as I was reading, aghast, I heard a phone a couple of rows over where a woman had the scene on a live news feed.  I went over to watch and we were soon joined by four other people.  I thought this was exactly what the cathedral meant — here were six strangers in a store in Virginia Beach, gathered together in tears.  There were, indeed, miracles revealed today and I am inspired, as always, by the resilience of Paris and her people.
I’m keeping you and your fellow Parisians in my thoughts.
And so many others wrote in :
– I am so overwhelming sorry to see the images of Notre Dame. I have no words but I wanted to reach out. 
– we have been watching the fire at notre dame. my heart is breaking.
I am watching the pictures from Paris and I am heartbroken. I loved Notre Dame de Paris and I loved what I experienced there. This is a dreadful moment for Paris and for France and my thoughts are with you all.
– Hola Sandy & Philippe
Algo nuestro esta ardiendo también. Espero que Notre Dame se pueda reparar, aunque nunca será lo mismo. Hoy recordamos los días maravillosos que pasamos allí, lo preciosa que era y lo que nos impresionó ver Notre Dame
Un abrazo muy fuerte
– We are sitting at home watching with sadness the awful fire at Notre Dame. We cannot believe this is happening to such an iconic and poignant landmark. This cathedral means so much to people from all walks of life and religions from all over the world.
-I hope that they are able to get the fire under control soon as it has already caused so much damage. Our thoughts are with you on such a sad day.

American ex-pat Ric Adam has been living and painting in Paris for many years. His ‘atelier’ is an open space on the Pont de l’Archevêché facing Notre Dame. The morning of the disaster he sold this painting to a passerby.

Ric hasn’t painted since the cathedral’s roof crumbled, but he says one day soon, he’ll continue to paint what once was. As long as people still have their memories–the beauty remains.

Video from: Current News

1 Comment

Richard and Reinhard · April 22, 2019 at 4:17 pm

Dear Sandy and Philippe, thanks so much, Sandy, for the above account of the event and your thoughts and those of others. Personally, I was in shock when I first saw the photos of the cathedral burning–it seemed impossible (as so many have said and you mention above) but I did not cry until I saw the photos of the crowds watching from the quais–their faces told the story so much more clearly than the thing itself–and that’s when I cried. We will not be in Paris this coming year but hope to stay with you at My Little Home in 2021. The cathedral will not be open then (and not in five years either–such huge projects take much longer in my experience) but from your photos I can tell it will be just as exhilarating for Reinhard and I to get our bags stashed away into My Little Home and then rush down the hill to see Notre Dame sitting so pretty on her island, almost just like the first time I did that many years ago. Thanks again for your beautiful photo essay.
Richard and Reinhard

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