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Notre Dame as I'd like to remember it. Photo from Paris-visit.org

Notre Dame as I’d like to remember it. Photo from Paris-visit.org

The news out of Paris is beyond imagining — fire is ravaging Notre Dame Cathedral. As I write this, Parisian officials fear catastrophic damage and perhaps total loss of this world treasure — with late word that its towers and façade may be saved. French President Macron has vowed to rebuild.

For the millions who have visited and loved and worshipped in this magnifient edifice — with so much historic, artistic, and architectural glory — as well as for residents of Paris who have been privileged to view it on an almost daily basis, the news is heartbreaking. And for those who have not had the good fortune to see it and now perhaps never will, words cannot express.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Paris — from my first visit in 1966 until my latest visit three years ago and at least a dozen trips in-between — without walking through this magnificent 13th century cathedral and also admiring it from nearby streets and cafes and from the boats that cruise the Seine along the Ile de la Cite.

My most memorable visit was in 1989, when my son, Grael, sang a solo there at age 10 with the touring San Francisco Boys Chorus. Because I was an unofficial chaperone for the group, I was able to access some parts of the cathedral, both inside and out, that were normally off limits to visitors as the boys waited to go on. I was awestruck by the entire experience.

A decade later, when he was studying French in Paris, Grael and I climbed high up into the cathedral to commune with the decorative gargoyles and statuary saints on its gothic façade.

If Notre Dame can’t be saved, Paris will never be the same without it. And part of me deep in my travelers’ soul will never be the same as well. My thoughts go out to the French people and everyone around the world who loves this world icon.

 

6 Responses to Heartbreaking Loss of a World Icon

  • I was fortunate enough to be there to hear Grael’s solo and all the wonderful concert of the Boys Chorus. A great memory. Even though some of the structure has been saved, it will take many years for the cathedral to be fully repaired, if ever. I fear for the stained glass windows in particular.

  • I photographed the cathedral with a crowded sightseeing boat passing by just nine days ago.There was saffolding on parts of the roof where repairs were being made to the leaking roof that was made of wood with lead plating. it has been cold in Paris and apparently workers on the roof were using heaters. Possibly one was left on when the work day ended because the fire started soon after.

    • That appears to be exactly what happened. I know you got some great “before” shots, Dennis. Let’s hope that, with time, there will be great “after” shots as well.

  • Well said, Clark. I am thankful for having had the chance to live in Paris long enough to “take for granted” Notre Dame de Paris. It was orienting in so many ways—it had always been there and would always be there. Today I feel more optimistic about what is to come. Let’s hope for the best.

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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