The Heart of Paris

Last week, the French capital, Paris, was at the centre of world attention as people watched its famous cathedral burn and its spire crash down in flames. Notre Dame de Paris is the most visited building in one of the most visited cities in the world. It was built between 1160 and 1260 and its famous rose window and gargoyles have made it an icon of Paris. The spire that fell during the fire was not part of the original design. It was added during restoration work in 1844. Now, it seems the people are divided in their opinion: should the spire, or Flèche, as it’s called in French, have a new design to represent cultural and technological changes or a traditional spire to replace the old one?

In 1831, Victor Hugo published The Hunchback of Notre-Dame: the story of Quasimodo and Esmeralda which later became a famous musical and a Disney film. The writer’s real intention, however, was to highlight the beauty of medieval architecture and try to preserve the cathedral itself. Other writers have used Paris as a setting for their novels, inspired by the history and the architecture of this beautiful city. Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and Edgar Allan Poe’s, The Murders in the Rue Morgue are both set in Paris. The city has always attracted writers and artists. Oscar Wilde, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, at some time during their lives, all made their home Paris.


Now, let’s practise!

Answer keys

Illustration by Irene Bonini, taken from Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo, Lire et s’entraîner Niveau Trois (B2)


Victoria writes original stories for Black Cat, taking her inspiration from the world of fantasy and magic!


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