Parisian in Winnipeg mourns as fire engulfs historic Notre Dame Cathedral

By | April 15, 2019

Parisians are losing something very important to them as Notre Dame Cathedral burns, says Alan Nobili, who grew up about three kilometres from the medieval cathedral.

“This is simply unbelievable. This is very sad for Paris because this monument is incredibly important for us,” Nobili, executive director of the Alliance Française du Manitoba, said Monday as the 850-year-old landmark burned.

The fire started Monday evening (which is seven hours ahead of Winnipeg) and within hours the cathedral’s iconic spire had collapsed and the roof had fallen into the wooden interior, throwing flames, smoke and ash into the evening Paris sky.

“I am very sad and I think most of my fellow friends and fellow French people are very sad today,” Nobili said in Winnipeg on Monday afternoon.

“It’s at the very centre of Paris, one of the most important touristic attractions and very important for the Parisians.”

‘Central to our life’

Nobili moved to Winnipeg from Paris four years ago to head up the Alliance, a cultural organization that teaches and promotes the French language.

He last visited Notre Dame last year, he said.

“We are losing … something which is very important to us,” he said, adding the cathedral, which he first visited with his school as a child, is among the most-visited monuments in Europe and the world. 

“This is very central to our life,” he said. “Even if you don’t visit it, you see it almost every day when you cross the River Seine.”