Historians expressed incredulity at the collapse of a building that has been a symbol of France for almost a millennium and withstood war and revolution.
“If Paris is the Eiffel Tower then France is Notre Dame. It’s the entire culture, entire history of France incarnated in this monument,” Bernard Lecompte, a writer and specialist in religious history told BFM TV.
A comment from the Louvre Museum’s Twitter account said: “The fire which has struck Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a tragedy for World Heritage.
“The Louvre expresses its deepest admiration and solidarity with those who are currently battling the flames.”
Horrific images of the devastating fire covered the front pages on Tuesday morning, a day after British politicians and religious leaders expressed their sadness at the blaze.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral.”