Notre-Dame – A Monumental Loss
By Laetitia Aria Law Clerk Bridgehouselaw LLP
On April 16, 2019, Notre-Dame in Paris caught fire. No matter whether people are religious or not, catholic or not, everybody was moved by the photos and videos of Notre-Dame in flames. All around the world, people were shocked by this horrific scene. It is not just a religious building, it is part of the French and European history.
Notre-Dame is one of the symbols of French cultural heritage. The first foundation stone of the cathedral was laid in 1163 – 856 years ago. The monument has always inspired artists and authors like Victor Hugo, who published the Hunchback of Notre-Dame in 1831. 13 million visitors come every year to admire the cathedral.
The fire started around 6:50 pm in the attic spaces and spread rapidly. The cause of the fire is not known as of yet. But the district attorney said that it could be due to the restoration efforts on the framework of the building. An investigation was initiated to determine the cause of the fire.
Thanks to the efficiency of the Paris fire department, the fire was controlled and the structure of the cathedral was saved. More than 400 firemen fought the fire from outside and inside the building. The bravery of these men is impressive, especially the ten men who went inside the building to save the most valuable art pieces. The Général Jean-Claude Galler, head of the Paris fire department, gathered his men together before the spire collapsed and proposed the idea of entering the cathedral’s nave to save some art pieces. The firemen knew that they would put their lives in danger by going inside. However, ten men volunteered. They succeeded and saved, among other things, relics like the Woven Crown, the tunic of Saint Louis and chalices. When it became too dangerous, the firemen left the building and a robot continued to spray water to limit the temperature increase inside the cathedral.
Looking forward, the French Heritage Foundation, which operates daily to safeguard and promote French heritage, announced the opening of a fund dedicated to the reconstruction of the monument. The LVMH Group and the Arnault Family, owner of famous brands including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Moët & Chandon, were the first to announce their solidarity and a donation of 200 million euros to the fund dedicated to the reconstruction. Meanwhile, other major companies announced their commitments as well, including the L’Oreal Group, the Kering Group (owner of Gucci and Saint Laurent), and Apple.
We hope that Notre-Dame will soon be able to shine and watch over Paris again.
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