As the world watched Notre-Dame de Paris burn last month, many of us thought of our visits to the iconic cathedral that has stood in the heart of the French capital for hundreds of years. Those of us who have studied art history admire it as a leading example of Gothic architecture, with its signature gargoyles and flying buttresses.
While Notre-Dame’s treasures and rose windows were thankfully spared major damage, many people wept at the sight of the roof collapsing and the church’s spire crumbling down. Largay Travel advisors shared some of their memories of Notre-Dame. I myself was fortunate enough to ascend to the roof on my first visit at age 17, and each trip to Paris for me must include a visit; now more than ever.
Stefany DiManno Ceccato of DMC Travel Tailor first visited Paris and Notre-Dame in her early 20s. “I remember admiring the Gothic architecture, as I wasn’t used to seeing that in the States,” she wrote. “I lit a candle inside as my mom faithfully lights candles every Sunday in church. I was in awe with the beauty inside, the stained glass windows, the art, the sculptures, the details. I went with a couple of girlfriends from, so the whole trip was special since it was our first time in Paris!
Silvana Frappier of Destinations Less Known wrote: “A few years back, my husband and I traveled to Paris to celebrate his birthday. This trip was all about him and for him, but I had one request: ‘I must go to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. As a big fan of the classic movie ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame,’ it was a dream of mine to visit the cathedral. After many photos were taken outside, we got to go inside and tour. My husband kept making fun of me that Quasimodo was going to show up at any minute to hunt me. I said to him, ‘stop making fun of it, something is going to happen to you.’ After that he went to light a candle and say prayers. Doing it he burns most of his fingers. … He said he was cursed. We’re still laughing until today of the episode. We will forever cherish this memory.
Melanie Schultz sent along this memory from clients of hers: “What a wonderful time we had in France last summer. One of our many highlights was seeing Notre-Dame. You couldn’t help but feel the history standing in front of this majestic church. So happy my family and I were able to see her in all her glory.”
President Emmanuel Macron has vowed France will rebuild Notre-Dame as swiftly as possible, and generous donations have poured in to fund the undertaking. While none of us who saw the flames engulf the roof will likely ever forget it, we hope someday the fire of 2019 will be just one chapter in the lore of a magnificent building that stands for hundreds of years more.