It was a busy day for me in Paris. After doing photo shooting at Eiffel Tower and then had a picnic at Jardin des serres d’Auteuil, I went to Pantheon to meet another friend. I had my camera with me because I didn’t have the time to go home to drop it off.
I was supposed to meet my friend at 7pm, I was 15mins late when I got out of the metro station. He still didn’t reply my text after 7pm. Once I was out of the metro station, I saw this.
Massive white smoke coming out from somewhere. It is very abnormal. Out of curiosity, instead of walking to Pantheon where I should be meeting my friend, I decided to walk to the smoke. It was probably not the wisest choice for my own safety before knowing what was going on. When I was heading to the direction of the smoke, I searched online “Paris fire”, and the news showed “Notre-Dame: Massive fire ravages Paris cathedral”. Oh no, I screamed. I couldn’t believe it. I ran closer at a faster speed.
Crowd gathered when I was getting closer. From this point I can see from far away that Notre Dame is on BIG fire. I was speechless. I passed through the crowd and got as close as possible.
I got as close as watching it just across the river, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I could felt the heat from the fire, burning fiercely. Very soon, the police started to evacuate people, pushing all of us to the pedestrian across, and blocking the road.
I stood there with hundreds of other people, watching the fire burn helplessly in disbelief. It was very emotional and people kept saying “Putain!” (Shit). I was close to tears. I think some of the people around were actually crying.
After watching the fire for 20 mins or so, the spire and the roof collapsed, creating much more smoke. Everyone watched in sadness, heartbroken. We didn’t know how long the fire will go on, everyone is worried that Notre Dame will be burnt down by fire, completely gone. This beautiful cathedral has been in Paris for over 800 years, it was so unreal to see it in such big fire.
It was very sad to watch the fire up close but it was also addictive to watch. I didn’t want to leave the scene. Finally my friend texted me back and he had to went through all the crowd to come to see me. After passing through hundreds of people, he finally found me, it felt like I was rescued from a disaster, like a reunion scene you saw in a disaster movie. He told me that when he was about to leave, his professor started talking to him about his doctor thesis so he was stuck. I was a bit emotional after seeing the fire with the crowd, but he is a scientist in chemistry so he is more rational and just wonder how the fire started, so I didn’t get the emotional support I was hoping for, right after watching this tragedy.
I have been shooting cherry blossom in Square Jean XXIII right next to Notre dame for the last 2 weeks before the fire happened. Having been walking passed Notre Dame like 10 times but never went inside even though I kind of hear a voice saying I should.
When I showed my South African friend around Paris just 1 week ago before the fire, I even asked her: “Do you want to go inside? There is no queue.” She said no as she was not too interested.
You think ‘it’s gonna be there forever I can go later’, but the thing is – nothing or person will be here forever. We should take the opportunity RIGHT NOW to do something we want to do, especially something you have always wanted to do. For me, I have been talking about writing a travel blog for a few years, there are always excuses – too busy, no time, too much work… you name it. We should start doing the things we have always wanted to do and leave no regrets.
Luckily the damage of the fire was not as bad as everyone thought. The main tower survived and all arts work has been removed before they started the restoration before. It will probably take a few years before Notre Dame will be opened for public again. Hopefully the restoration goes smooth and we can soon see Notre Dame as it was.
If you would like to support the restoration of Notre Dame, you may do so at below link:
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