AFTER the catastrophic fire that engulfed Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday night, the world has heaved a sigh of relief that it appears that the main structure of this extraordinary building can be saved and restored.

Obviously it will never be exactly the same again but President Emmanuel Macron has led his nation and captured the hopes of the whole civilised world in pronouncing that Notre-Dame will rise again, however long it takes and however much it costs.

He is not everybody’s favourite, but like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama he has a way of saying what the world wants to hear: “This Notre-Dame Cathedral, we will rebuild it. All together.

The National:

“This is part of our French destiny. I am committed to this: from tomorrow a national subscription will be launched, and far beyond our borders.”

As pledges of support near the £1 billion mark, it is clear the world wants to help.


WE are not dealing with a modern building and that may be just the reason why Notre-Dame can be saved. It was the newest part of the cathedral around the central spire which burned quickest and fiercest, but early indications are that the stones put in place by mediaeval masons some 650 to 850 years ago have managed to survive the heat of the intense blaze rather better than the 19th-century constructions above them.

What will certainly help is the fact that Notre-Dame was digitally scanned in great detail by an American art historian, the late Professor Andrew Tallon, some years ago. He used laser scanners to capture over one billion points of data that can be used to create a 3D model of the cathedral.

Indeed it was Professor Tallon’s incredibly detailed analysis that persuaded Notre-Dame’s authorities to launch the restoration project which may, or may not, have contributed to the fire.

The National:

We will not know until Friday how much of the great art within the Cathedral can be preserved, but art restorers are much more advanced in their techniques, especially for removing soot and smoke damage, than they ever were.


IT just is. It is history and art set in stone and, unfortunately, all too flammable wood.

It was the symbol of Paris, a city loved by tens of millions, long before the Eiffel Tower was built and it has survived the French revolution, decades of neglect in the 19th century and several wars. It was to have been destroyed by the Nazis in 1944, Adolf Hitler having given the orders to raze all of Paris’s riches, but a combination of Germans on the ground refusing to carry out their demented Führer’s orders and swift action by the French Resistance saved Notre-Dame, where General Charles de Gaulle promptly held a service of celebration for the liberation of Paris.

Though superintended by the French state, it is also a major church of the Roman Catholic faith, yet transcends mere religion as a building for which the word iconic might have been coined.

Notre-Dame is generally recognised as the world’s finest, and certainly best-known example of French Gothic architecture. Yet when building began in 1160 it was designed in the Romanesque style, before eventually changing into its final Gothic style.

The National:

The two west façade towers where the bells reside date from between 1220 and 1250, and the famous flying buttresses, which also appear to have survived, were added in the 14th century. The relief when the flames licking at the two towers were brought under control late on Monday was palpable – had they gone up, it is likely the fire would have conquered all.


THERE will be a great need for stonemasons and Scotland has a small but world-class group of them.

No doubt Scots will also want to contribute cash, not least because France is our oldest partner in the Auld Alliance that dates back to 1295.

Meanwhile, all we can say to our French friends is this: vive la France, vive Notre-Dame de Paris.