At around 2:30 all 103 SCAD students arrived at Notre Dame and waited in line to see the incredible architecture and history that was inside this massive church. We had just arrived in Paris and were full of the energy a new city brings. The group I walked with went rather quick and only spend about 30 min inside before exiting, little did we know that later that day the church would catch fire and huge parts of the buildings history would be destroyed.
After our second activity that day and in the midst of an incredibly bad migraine we walked past the church to get back to our hotel. We noticed police out front and a crowd but didn’t think anything of it as there are always crowds at a tourist attraction like that. I took a short 20 min nap and when I woke up there were texts in our group message that Notre Dame was on fire. Assuming it wasn’t a big deal and that it would be out soon we left for dinner. While we waited for an UBER instead of the blue skies that had been present all day we saw clouds of yellow and green smoke filling the air. Our friends came running down the street with photos of Notre Dame burning. My stomach dropped and a feeling of sadness began to settle in as I realized this fire wasn’t a joke or a small incident.
We drove past the madness and saw giant flames bursting out of the top of the building and sadness quickly turned into a feeling of helplessness and distress. A moment in history was happening right in front of our eyes. We went to dinner and somehow no one was really talking about it, it felt unreal or like a dream. On our walk home, we got caught in a crowd staring at the glowing embers of the church and singing hymns. Surreal is the only word I can use to describe this entire experience, I have never seen anything like that and hope I never have to watch history be destroyed like that again.