French MU student reacts to the heart of France burning

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COLUMBIA - Gaelle Fournier, a current MU student from France, said she is devastated by the destruction of the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.

She said the cathedral is a staple of the landscape of Paris.

"When you are walking down the streets of Paris you just cannot miss the cathedral," Fournier said.

Christina Wytko is a teacher at Le Petite Ecole, a French immersion school in Columbia. She studied the Gothic architecture of the building and was saddened by the news. 

"It's the heart of France that is burning," Wytko said.

Fournier said the cathedral is a part of the identities of many people from France.

"Not only a part of our history, but a part of our culture," Fournier said. "It's a part of us that is burning, that is gone."

She said the Notre Dame Cathedral became most famous after Victor Hugo's novel, "Notre-Dame de Paris." Notre Dame means "our lady" in French.

"With this terrible fire, it's really "our lady" who has been murdered and so that's why we're very attached to her and that is why Quasimodo is hugging her in this cartoon," Fournier said.

Fournier said the spire, which burned down today, first burned down in the 18th century and was rebuilt.

She said despite future renovations of the cathedral, it will never be the same.

"It will no longer be the same. Treasures have been lost and those treasures are irreplaceable," Fournier said. 

The French president vowed to rebuild the cathedral. Fire crews were able to save the building's two towers including the iconic bell tower.