Visiting France The blog

Remembering Nôtre Dame Cathedral- and looking forward to her return

April 17 2019

Nôtre Dame is the heart of Paris. She stands on that little island in the Seine, neither of the Left Bank nor the Right. Outside her doors, a plaque marks the centre of the city. After a day of cafés and boutiques and booksellers, you want stillness. You have to cross water to find it.

Ten bridges connect to that little island, and as you walk over the river, you find a calm in the midst of a hectic city in a hectic world. Between those two great towers at the west end of the cathedral are a pair of doors that have been open to everyone, rich or poor, with faith or without, burdened or joyful, for eight hundred years. Inside, you sit, and instead of doing, here is a place where you can just be. Be in this serene stillness at the heart of Paris.

And the heart of Paris is still beating. If you have never been to Nôtre Dame, you aren't too late. You may have to wait, but she'll wait for you. The terrible fire of April 15 did great damage, but many great landmarks have suffered more and wear the scars of their past as marks of dignity. France will rebuild, and there will be complaints and bickering and it will take too long and cost too much and will not be faithful to the past and will be too faithful to the past… and through it all, Nôtre Dame just smiles. She will welcome you some day through her doors, as she has for hundreds of years, as she will for hundreds more.