Shakespeare & Notre Dame

Hello Romance on the Rocks readers from Paris! 

I hope that you are having a wonderful spring day wherever you are reading this blog.  The Shakespeare themed blogs from each of the Romance on the Rocks writers have been amazing this month so I thought I would do something a little different. Actually, I’m going to go totally off the rails for my Shakespeare connection so bear with me on this journey. It might not be all Shakespeare, but I had to write about this. So, here goes something…

One of my favorite bookstores in the world is Shakespeare & Co. and it is in Paris. For me, this shop is so connected to Paris that I can’t help but think of Shakespeare & Co. without being transported to the City of Lights in my mind.  It is a wonderful store and just happens to be directly across from Notre Dame Cathedral. When exiting the bookstore, Notre Dame is usually the first thing one sees.

So while the only connection to Shakespeare in this blog is the name of the shop and that shop’s proximity to Notre Dame Cathedral, I knew I needed to write about the fire.  As I recently watched the church in flames on television, I immediately thought of the times that I had walked through Paris and so many of those  promenades included a pass by Notre Dame. Not necessarily on a visit into the cathedral, but just it’s presence as part of the Parisian skyline.  It was always comforting and awe-inspiring to see and I so naturally associate it with the city of Paris. The connection is so ingrained in my mind that it is difficult to separate it from it’s location. When you think of the pyramids, the Empire State Building, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House, the Kremlin, and the Statue of Liberty – Can’t you picture their location immediately? Me too and this is how I picture Notre Dame, forever a part of Paris.  On every cruise along the Seine, in countless photos, in millions of hearts, Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité in the middle of Paris has impacted the world. It isn’t just a church, but a symbol of France. Dating back hundreds of years, it is historical in so many ways. Within those halls, Joan of Arc was declared a martyr, Napoleon crowned himself Emperor, and world leaders attended a funeral service for Charles de Gaulle.

In the last few days, I’ve walked around the Notre Dame area feeling very heavy hearted. The people are heartbroken – silently watching, praying and one playing moving melodies on the violin.  Not just because it is an important religious building, but because it is important in history.  This cathedral has celebrated kings and queens, weddings and baptisms, parades and festivals and so many other significant events. Concerts and events occur there regularly and visitors from around the world and every religion pass through its halls.  And even if you haven’t been inside, if you have been to Paris then you have most likely seen it.

We were able to walk around the cathedral earlier in the week and I wanted to share some photos. The walks were both heartbreaking and poignant as we moved quietly around the building through the crowds. Despite how devastating this fire was, seeing the building standing gave me a sense of hope. I know that Notre Dame will rebuild and that someday I will again read a book at Shakespeare and Co. gazing at a restored cathedral. One religious building and one secular just across the way from one another and both serving the people of France and the people of the world.

My heart is with the people of France!

G.G. Gabriel