Heart Of Paris On Fire: French Media Coverage Of Notre Dame Cathedral Fire
The headlines of major French papers on Tuesday morning expressed the profound grief of the entire French nation, with virtually every media outlet placing images of a fierce fire that started a day before and caused irreparable damage to one of the main symbols of Paris and France the Notre Dame cathedral on their front pages
This tragedy, which was immortalized in the headlines and on photos of morning newspapers, became a personal drama for each Parisian.
"The heart in ashes," La Croix newspaper reported.
France's Liberation newspaper used a sad anagram in its headline saying "Notre Drame," which means "our tragedy" in English, while the Parisien newspaper called the landmark cathedral "Our Lady of Tears."
A massive fire broke out at Notre Dame on Monday evening, inflaming its bearing structure and causing the famous spire of the cathedral to collapse. French President Emmanuel Macron promised to rebuild the 850-year-old cathedral, but experts said that it would take decades.
The Liberation newspaper reported that "this is more than just a building on fire, this is our history."
L'Express newspaper, in turn, noted that the cathedral with almost 900-year-long history "survived the revolution, world wars and crowds of countless tourists," and "seemed untouchable and unchanged until this April's Monday."
There are those who attempted to find a mystical meaning in what has happened. L'Express cited the words of a priest from one of the nearby temples, who noted that "it may be an accident, but rather a sign, it is a God's sign." According to the priest, this "sign" may relate to the changes in politics, religion, morality, as well as to "the loss of faith."
Le Figaro newspaper described the incident as a real disaster.
"Flames, smoke and tears. There is a helpless crowd on the Seine on Monday evening, despite the firefighters' demands to leave and protect themselves, the people are standing and looking at the building engulfed in flames," the newspaper wrote.
The emotions of the gathered Parisians and tourists were so strong that they were crying and hugging each other.
Despite Macron's promises to rebuild the cathedral, there were words "painful," "terrible," "we will never get it back," "heritage is disappearing," "we are losing Notre Dame," and "I hope this is not an attack" heard in the crowd, Le Figaro reported.
Le Monde newspaper reported that the fire that had almost destroyed the Notre Dame cathedral became particularly painful for the Christians of France and the whole world, who felt as if their "parents' house was engulfed in smoke."
According to Le Point newspaper, "the cathedral is disfigured, but it survived." The newspaper stressed that "many hours of firefighting gave its result [the firefighters] managed to put out the fire in the middle of the night."
"Paris will wake up in the morning to see the damage," Le Point added.
La Depeche newspaper reported that apart from tears people had many questions about how such a tragedy could have happened. The local police have already launched an investigation, which has not gone very far so far. The newspaper noted that, according to the preliminary data, the fire could have started because of the renovation works that began in the cathedral last summer and should have lasted for almost 20 years. It is also unclear if the workers, who were questioned by the police all night, were involved in the incident.
A spokesman for the cathedral, Andre Finot, noted that the restoration works were primarily focused on the spire, which was destroyed by the fire. According to Finot, by the time the fire started � about 6:50 p.m. local time (16:50 GMT) � the workers should have already left the cathedral, as they usually finish their shift no later than 6:30 p.m., but thus far no one can tell if the restorers were in the building when the blaze started.
Le Monde, in turn, noted that the investigation ruled out criminal motives and was leaning toward unintentional damage. However, the newspaper pointed out that it would be extremely difficult for the investigation team to find at least some physical evidence and establish the true reasons and the chronicle of the tragic events after such a strong fire.