Certain places throughout the world exude quality and inspire each of us to be the best version of ourselves. In Paris (and throughout France, for that matter) quality is the standard rather than the exception.

At the heart of the city, rising over the banks of the Seine on the Île de la Cité, Notre Dame epitomizes quality architecture: fine craftsmanship and inspiration for all.

Beyond its service as a Catholic place of worship, this cathedral has opened its doors to people from around the world, and of all faiths, to enjoy its magnificence. For more than 800 years, it has soared as a beacon of hope, a symbol of rebirth, and a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.

This legacy was threatened when tragedy struck the cathedral on April 15, 2019. As a devastating fire destroyed the entire roof of this UNESCO World Heritage site, I watched news coverage with my family in horror and disbelief—the roof ablaze followed by the fall of its iconic central spire—knowing the treasures that were lost. We had just been there.

When Paris Notre Dame stood majestic, just a few months ago, we were fortunate to experience this medieval structure in its glory. My husband and I had been years ago, but this time, we were fortunate to take our two boys. I continue to revisit our photos, realizing we are entering a new chapter for this historic monument.

The only certainty now: it will never be what it was. It will take years to rebuild, restore, reshape into its new future. One day, however, it will rise from the ashes to bring a new sense of hope, just as it has done for centuries.

Tragedy can turn to opportunity. Master craftsmen have a chance to learn the art of once mastered, bygone trades—to rebuild. The choice will be how to honor the past and move toward a new future, always thoughtful, with respectful care, the French way.

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris sculpted entrance portal, statuary, and bell towers

Photo Gallery

This event will be another page from another chapter in a long historical novel. I’m glad to have unknowingly caught the cathedral in the final days of its previous chapter.

Photos capture beauty, experiences, historical events. Moments and treasures are held in our hearts and minds. Through these images I am able to experience it over again in my mind. The world captured in photos lives on as we churn toward a new day.

Sculpture, Vaults and Stained Glass

Graceful Grandeur of the Spire

Timelessness. Overall we could learn so much about building lasting architecture and communities. This structure was built to last centuries, with such reverence for the art, by master sculptors and masons—art forms that only few know today—becoming a point from which an entire city was built.

If only we put this much care into our own communities on any scale, we too could be inspired daily by our surroundings. Careful of our footprint and aware of our interconnection with the earth, its species, and our finite resources, may we all learn to be truly thoughtful in what we create and treasure our masterpieces.

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