A keepsake – and to-do list – of Europe’s greatest cathedrals

In his new book on Europe’s cathedrals, Simon Jenkins begins with the claim that the greatest among them are our most important European works of art. Greater than the paintings of El Greco or Berthe Morisot? More momentous than the buildings of Mies van der Rohe or Norman Foster? More important than the organ music of J.S. Bach or the Duruflé Requiem? Still, I see his point. Given the vast numbers who have visited these cathedrals over the centuries for worship or on tour, their powerful multimodal communication (cathedrals incorporate the visual arts, architecture, stained glass, music, wood- and iron-work, masonry, weaving and many other forms of expression) and the

Has Notre-Dame ever been a symbol of unity for the French?

From the kitchen of her apartment on the Quai de la Tournelle in Paris, the journalist and broadcaster Agnès Poirier could see the bright yellow plumes of smoke rising into the sky. Notre-Dame de Paris was on fire, and suddenly, in that tourist-crowded, hyper-expensive ‘cradle of France’, nothing was certain — ‘democracy, peace and fraternity’ — any more. The following morning, children living on or near the Île de la Cité took to school little plastic bags filled with blackened bits of roof picked up from balconies and pavements (as well as probably quite a lot of lead dust) which ‘dated back to the Crusades’. Live-streaming of that apocalyptic conflagration