Is Notre Dame Based on a True Story? Big Paris Fire Explained

Disaster movies and TV series were always popular amongst the public, especially the ones that happened in real life. One day in April of 2019, one fire made the world stop and move its attention to Paris, France. Where one of the most iconic and culturally important buildings in world history, the church of Notre Dame, was burning. The fire harmed the finest example of French Gothic architecture and one of the symbols of Paris and France. Netflix decided to create a limited TV series, and this article will discuss if the Notre Dame TV series is based on a true story and explain the event of the Big Paris Fire.

The Notre-Dame limited TV series on Netflix is based on a true story, specifically on the events that transpired in April 2019. The fire broke out beneath the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Many culturally important monuments of the church were damaged and destroyed, while the firefighters safely removed some of them from the fire. The limited series implemented dramatic elements, specifically, ordinary people of Paris and their point of view during the disastrous fire that damaged the symbol of France.

We will discuss this topic more by mentioning the Big Paris Fire, the impact of Notre Dame church on French and world history, and the series itself and its premise. If you are interested in this Netflix series, stay with us until the end of the article.

The cultural impact of Notre Dame Church

Before we indulge in what the series is about, we need to establish why Netflix and the showrunners felt the need to create this story and why the Notre Dame church is so important to French people. In French, Notre Dame de Paris is a medieval Catholic cathedral built in the 4th arrondissement of Paris and was dedicated to Virgin Mary.

The cathedral’s construction started at the beginning of the 12th century and was finished in 1260. Since then, Notre Dame has been modified multiple times and stood tall despite European and France’s turbulent political happenings and wars. If you’re looking for a truly great representative of French-Gothic architecture, Notre Dame was it. Over the ages, the church became the symbol of rich European cultural history and heritage.

Is Notre Dame Based On a True Story? Big Paris Fire Explained

Napoleon I. held his coronation in Notre Dame, and since then, many French Presidents have had funerals in the notable cathedral. Notre Dame was always the example of finesse and refinement of France and its culture, and people worldwide also recognized that fact. At the beginning of the 21st century, Notre Dame cathedral was the most visited Paris French monument, which put it in front of the Louvre museum, and the Eiffel Tower.

Notre Dame had a beautiful exterior and stunning interior, iconic cultural and religious works, and notable bishops and French people were buried there. 

However, the cathedral that survived the turbulent medieval times, the French Revolution and its revolutionaries severely vandalized its interior, and World Wars was severely “hurt” by the event that transpired in April 2019.

Big Paris fire explained

On 15 April 2019, around 06:30 pm, a fire broke out beneath the notable Notre Dame roof. The firefighters and other emergency services responded to the fire immediately, and over 400 firefighters came to fight against the fire that quickly engulfed the notable Notre Dame tower. The firefighters risked their lives by extinguishing the fire from inside the cathedral because that was the only way to perceive most of the structure and prevent it from damaging it even more. 

Is Notre Dame Based On a True Story? Big Paris Fire Explained

They even used the River Seine to extinguish the fire, which rapidly spread across the cathedral’s work, and the fire temperature increased to 800 degrees Celsius. The temperature was a huge problem since the firefighters could not approach the center, the fire’s source, and the old cultural monuments that were easily flammable.

Most of the extinguishing was completed from the ground since aerial firefighters feared dropping water from above would harm the cathedral’s structure even more. The cathedral’s spire collapsed around eight pm and “helped” the fire spread to the roof even more. If one more tower collapsed, the one that holds eight church bells, the entire cathedral would collapse and be destroyed. 

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Emergency services realized they needed to concentrate their efforts on the towers and abandon the roof, which firefighters had unsuccessfully extinguished for hours. Around ten o’clock in the evening, the fire of Notre Dame was successfully under control. During the operation, the so-called Big Paris Fire was broadcasted worldwide, and French people watched in fear how one of the country’s symbols and its people was slowly but surely getting destroyed.

Is Notre Dame Based On a True Story? Big Paris Fire Explained

The firefighters distinguished the fire, but the fire hurt the spirit of the French people significantly. Many Parisians and people involved in the operation of extinguishing the fire talked about their experiences and how the Notre Dame fire impacted their everyday lives.

Creative minds started developing stories about the fire and its people, and a French movie, Notre Dame on Fire, was released earlier this year. It tells the stories of firefighters in the cathedral fighting the fire that forever changed the French capital city, Paris.

However, Netflix saw an opportunity and developed a limited series that revolves around the experiences of ordinary people who need to take control of their lives while trying to control the fire of Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Netflix TV series and its premise

The new Netflix limited TV series trailer was released in September, and the streaming platform announced that the show would premiere on 19 October 2022. 

The official synopsis for the show reveals the limited series taking place during the night of the Notre Dame fire and the lives of the men and women involved in the operation. The show seems to have a similar premise to the fore mentioned Notre-Dame on Fire movie, but Netflix decided to involve other Parisians and dramatize the story a bit more. 

The trailer also showed the lives and drama of ordinary people struggling with their private lives, and the Notre Dame fire seems more of a setting and background for the characters to play out their stories there. Some French people were unhappy about it if you consider the comments underneath the official trailer for the series on YouTube. 

The reason behind some complaints is the overdramatization of the real-life events that affected the country. Still, overall, the trailer looks solid, and we do not doubt that French showrunners will do a good job of portraying the lives of Parisian people affected by the Notre Dame fire. 

  • Dora is an avid sports fan who started taking interest in TV and movies while attending University of Osijek. Characters, storylines and cinematography is something she started analysing very intensely, which made her respect the art of TV and movies more.