For those of you unfamiliar with Paris, Notre Dame is at the very heart of the city and the community, and not just in terms of religious and cultural significance.

Just outside the cathedral is the “Point zero des routes de France”. Not only does it serve as the centre of the French capital, but it is also the marker from which distances throughout France are traditionally measured.

Whether for the gothic architecture or the folklore around tales of the hunchback, everyone knows Notre Dame.

So the story goes, Joe DiMaggio said Notre Dame was the only thing that had a better backside than his wife, a certain Marilyn Monroe.

As someone who spent 10 years of his childhood in Paris, it was tough to see the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris engulfed in flames.

The cathedral played an important role in our upbringing in Paris in the early 1990s.

I can still recall the wood panelling around the church and the gargoyles that would spout water from the gutters during heavy rain.

But for me, much like many people in Paris, Notre Dame was so much more. A French institution, the church was open to all.

At the age of six, I made my Beaver promise on a side altar in the cathedral. It remains one of my earliest memories.

Notre Dame was used as the gathering point for the international school community for Remembrance Day parades and also played a role in other events for many Parisians and British expats.

And it is this inclusiveness that makes the church so appealing to all, not just the Roman Catholic community, who call Paris home.

The history of the city and the church are and will be forever entwined.

When General Charles de Gaulle died in 1970, Parisians turned to Notre Dame, when people flooded the streets in joy at the end of WW2, they ran to celebrate at Notre Dame.

For those living in Paris, Notre Dame is a constant source of comfort and hope.

It is the heart of the city, and I for one cannot imagine, and don’t want to imagine, Paris without it.