More than 100 students from the Savannah College of Art and Design are spending the last quarter in Lacoste, France. On Monday those students headed to Paris for the week not knowing they’d be some of the last to tour the cathedral before it went up in flames.
“During that time all you heard were the bells ringing. The bells were going crazy they were ringing the bells to let people know there was a fire, there was a fire in the area,” Marah Grossman, Junior, Preservation Design student said.
Parisians stood side by side in solidarity singing, kneeling and praying. Charred are remains left behind after flames ripped through one of the most iconic cathedrals in the world.
“To just sit here and have to watch it burn was definitely very very sad. Very heartbreaking,” Julia McKinney, Junior, Photography student said.
McKinney and Grossman were among the other 100 students when the fire began. They immediately began contacting family and posting to social media.
Grossman tells News 3 they left Lacoste early Monday morning, arriving in Paris around noon. Just hours later they were touring Notre Dame and later watched it burn from a restaurant nearby.
“We were all just speechless. Like we had been there just hours before and now it’s on fire,” Grossman said. “The roof is just gone. All that’s left is the scaffolding around. It was just horrible,” McKinney said.
Many flocked to Paris for Holy Week and attend events at the sacred cathedral. A tragedy that leaves many in shock and utter disbelief.
“Especially at this time during holy week and everything there is a higher amount of people here visiting this site,” Grossman said.
Firefighters worked relentlessly for more than 12 hours to save precious relics, artwork, and artifacts. But many say it’s majestic beauty will be forever scarred.
“Dating back so many years ago it will never be the same as it once was before,” Grossman said.
Yet all remain hopeful that one of the holiest places in the world will rise again.
“I know Paris has gone through a lot recently and has been in the eye of recent attacks and I know they have banded together with that and know they will with this,” Grossman says.