In devastating news, on Monday the French cathedral Notre Dame de Paris was engulfed in flames. The fire is now extinguished, but the damage has been done.
The historic landmark’s roof collapsed along with its spire, with firefighters just managing to stop the blaze from reaching the iconic facade and bell towers.
Translated to ‘Our Lady of Paris’, the original construction of Notre Dame began in 1163, and it’s built in the French Gothic style.
The public outpouring of grief at its destruction has been huge, but there is hope. French tycoon Bernard Arnault and his luxury goods group LVMH have pledged 200 million euro (£173 million) towards the reconstruction of the cathedral, following a reported 100 million euro (£86 million) donation from another French billionaire, Francois-Henri Pinault.
With this money and the cultural importance of the building in mind, French president Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre Dame. But who knows how long such a major and delicate reconstruction job will take?
In the meantime, if you’re mourning Notre Dame and wish to see similar French Gothic architecture, France is full of other astounding buildings worth visiting…
Many French Gothic cathedrals are called Notre Dame – not just Paris’. The cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres – Our Lady of Chartres – is generally referred to as Chartres Cathedral, and it really dominates the city.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, referred to as “the high point of French Gothic art”. Construction of the cathedral started in 1145, around the same time as its Parisian counterpart. It also shares many of the same characteristics, such as breathtaking stained glass windows, towering spires and an intricate facade.
Pilgrims don’t necessarily flock to the cathedral as they did in the Middle Ages, but it remains deserving of an afternoon’s contemplation.
Notre-Dame d’Amiens – or Amiens Cathedral – in the Somme region is particularly noteworthy as it is one of the largest examples of classic French Gothic architecture. UNESCO calls it one of the most complete 13th century Gothic churches you can find.
As with many of the religious buildings on this list, it was erected on the same spot where various other churches had stood previously, before being destroyed or razed. It took around 68 years to build, which for the time was actually pretty speedy.
The Cathedral of St Etienne of Bourges, known as Bourges Cathedral, is dedicated to the first Christian martyr, St Stephen.
It was built between the late 12th and late 13th centuries, and UNESCO calls it “one of the great masterpieces of Gothic art” which is “admired for its proportions and the unity of its design.”
The French Gothic style is instantly recognisable, and many of these buildings share the same characteristics: Height is paramount, flying buttresses tend to be present, they’re huge, vaulted, with beautiful stained glass windows and many intricate carvings and sculptures incorporated throughout the white/grey stone structure. Symmetry is also of huge importance.
Saint-Eustache is a tale of two styles. Externally, it has a French Gothic facade, but the interior is built in the Renaissance and classical styles.
This is probably because the church as we know it was built later than the likes of Chartres or Amiens; in the 1500s. It’s also a church as opposed to a cathedral, but is still an impressive and awe-inspiring structure. Find it in the 1st arrondissement, also home to the Louvre and the Tuileries Garden.
- Press Association