As hundreds of firefighters in ceremonial uniform marched through the gates of the French presidential palace to receive personal thanks from Emmanuel Macron for saving the structure of Notre Dame Cathedral, crowds gathered outside to cheer and clap.
Many of those applauding had watched horrified from Paris streets earlier this week as over 500 firefighters worked through the night to put out the fire and prevent an even worse disaster than the fallen spire and destroyed roof. Since then, there has been an outpouring of gratitude towards firefighters, with people taking chocolates and flowers to fire stations across the city, seeking to shake officers’ hands.
“The country and the entire world were watching us and you were exemplary,” a sombre-faced Emmanuel Macron told firefighters gathered at a closed ceremony inside the Élysée Palace.
Announcing they would all receive a gold medal for courage, Macron relived the night’s terror with them.7