Bay couple's eyewitness account of Notre Dame inferno
HERVEY Bay's Kevin and Katrina Corcoran watched on from afar as a raging inferno gutted the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday.
The couple, who have been travelling around Europe on a two-month holiday, could see the smoke and hear the roar of fire engines from their hotel room in nearby Montmartre.
Speaking to the Chronicle on Tuesday, Katrina described the sight of the 850-year-old cathedral burning as "devastating".
"We just arrived in Paris to discover Notre Dame is burning down," Katrina said.
"We are staying in Montmartre and can see the smoke and saw fire engines too.
"It's very sad. It's all that's on the TV here. There were televisions crews from all over the world staked out on every vantage point."
Their long-awaited plans of climbing the tower were also shattered.
"We had planned to climb the bell tower because when we were here last time we arrived late and only got to visit the inside," she said.
"It was one of four things on our Paris 'to do' list this time - along with a visit to Monet's Garden at Giverny, the Palace of Versailles, and a show at the Moulin Rouge.
"Instead of climbing the bell tower on Wednesday as planned, we joined thousands of others viewing its blackened ruins from a distance.
"The island, on which the cathedral stands, has been closed, and there is a massive police and military presence in the area.
"On our way to Notre Dame, a Parisian woman stopped us at the metro (train station) and using a combination of broken English and gestures, said locals were 'crazy with grief'.
"The previous day, our guide on the tour of Giverny burst into tears as she told us that she'd taken two tours through Notre Dame the day of the fire.
"As the fire raged, people gathered and sang Ava Maria."