The Saddest Day I Experienced in Paris
For the past three days now I’ve been struggling to find the right words to make this blogpost. Words can’t even begin to describe what I witnessed on Monday night and even three days after the tragedy I’m still speechless.
It’s been almost two years now since first I left my little seaside town in Ireland to pursue the beginning of my new life in Paris. I remember when I arrived at my first ever apartment in the city. It was in the latin quarter and just a ten minute walk from Notre-Dame. I was so blown away by the panoramic view of the Parisian rooftops from my top floor window and even more chuffed that Notre-Dame was only just around the corner from the tiny apartment.
Notre-Dame is a building that I consider myself so lucky to have been able to call my next-door neighbour for the time that I lived in Paris’ 5th arrondissement. This building was often the highlight of my day as I passed it going to and from college and knowing that one of the most beautiful architectural structures in the world was right in front of my doorstep everyday really filled my heart with so much appreciation and gratitude that I lived in Paris. Notre-Dame always felt like something that symbolised stability and eternalness in the city. To see it go up in flames felt so messed up because everything that the building symbolised seemed to burn with it.
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame has always been the backdrop to so many beautiful moments that I have spent in Paris. My friends and I are mostly all in our early twenties, flat broke and still in college so most of the summer evenings spent in Paris are by the banks of the Seine with a bottle of cheap store-bought wine between us.
Notre-Dame would almost always be the backdrop to our nights out and to the amazing memories I’ve made with such wonderful people. The Cathedral has been there when I fell in and out of love, it’s a place where I’ve experienced immense happiness and immense homesickness, it was my mother’s favourite landmark when she faced her fear of flying to come over and see me in Paris, it was a place where I experienced some of the most beautiful moments in my life that really made me appreciate how lucky I am just to be alive and to be able to make so many amazing memories in Paris. Where these moments seemed to be fleeting, I always thought that Notre-Dame would be everlasting.
I honestly think that no matter where you may live in the world, we all can share a certain kind of attachment to the monuments that make our world that little bit more beautiful. Massive architectural structures like Notre-Dame always stand as a symbol for stability and assurance so seeing them go up in flames always thwarts our perception of what’s around us and serves to highlight the fact that there is so much that we take for granted. Life is so uncertain and so unpredictable and sometimes that’s so easy to forget.
I really have no words to describe how I felt watching Notre-Dame burn down, other than that my heart was sinking the entire time. I’ve never been that close to such a tragedy before and seeing the reactions of the people around me, and feeling the atmosphere in the crowd where I was standing in front of the Cathedral was just so heart-wrenching. There were no words. Many were dead silent as they watched in horror what was happening before their eyes and so many others were crying all around me. My friend and I were at a street that was facing to the right of the Cathedral and we even witnessed one of the stain glass windows explode in the fire. It was an incredibly painful moment and one I wish I didn’t have to live.
It’s really in times like these where you have to realise that you can never take anything that you have in life for granted. If even the most stable of structures can collapse in the blink of an eye then what does that say about ourselves and our own lives?
When you live in a city as big and as beautiful and as opulent as Paris, it’s so easy to pass by these amazing things on a daily basis without actually stopping to look at them and to appreciate them for every little intricate detail that goes into the creation of their aesthetic beauty. Even though the fire at Notre-Dame was a massive tragedy for Paris and for our time, the silver lining is that with great loss comes the reminder that we must always get the most out of everyday we spend in life, of everything we have and of the moments we share together. It sounds cliché but often in life we never actually realise what we have until one day it’s just gone forever.
My goal now is to get the absolute most out of everything there is to see and do in Paris. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t feel extremely grateful to live in this amazing city. There is so much to do and see and so many places to explore. There is not a single street corner in Paris that doesn’t offer something beautiful to be in awe at.
All I can say to this tragedy is that I’m happy I got to experience Notre-Dame before the fire destroyed it. It’s a miracle that the building is still standing because I honestly don’t know where Paris would be without it.
I’m sorry that this post was a little emotional today guys. I hope you just understand that this was a massively devastating event and I still can’t believe it happened. Our next post will certainly be a much more positive one.
That’s all from me for now and I’ll see you guys very soon in our next post.