The people of Notre-Dame

The Notre-Dame fire not only made history, that of the nation and its heritage: it also left its mark on people’s lives. Parisians or not, everyone witnessed this terrible scene where the building caught fire in what seemed a spontaneous and mind-bending way. Among them were the men and women whose work, friends and inner world were intimately linked to the destiny of the building. Faced with the fire, they wept, hoped, expressed what this place meant to them in heart and spirit. Here are their accounts.

In the emotion that gripped us all, we were suddenly reminded of the fragility of the building, when we had the feeling that something within those stones went beyond human life

Isabelle Saint-Martin, historian

We gathered, many people wept. All night long, we wondered if we’d still have a cathedral the next day.

Yves Castagnet, titular organist of Notre-Dame

Later, I entered the cathedral with the President, to see the extent of the damage. I can still hear him say to me: the cross is there. Notre-Dame de Paris was there.

Mgr Chauvet, Rector-Archpriest of the Cathedral of Paris

What touched me was the emotion among our fellow citizens, whether they were believers or not. […] In losing Notre-Dame, we lost someone.

Odile Pinard, guide at Notre-Dame

That evening, I knew that Notre-Dame was the cathedral of everyone, of all countries. This realisation overwhelmed me.

Jean-Marie Duthilleul, architect
Incendie Notre-Dame 2

© Photos Gilles Bassignac / Jean-Michel Turpin, Marie-Christine Bertin,

Ludovic MarinDiocèse de Paris