Arson inquiry launched after fire breaks out at historic French cathedral in Nantes

An arson inquiry has been launched after fire has broken out in an historic French cathedral on Saturday morning.

The blaze at the Gothic cathedral in the western French city of Nantes, shattered stained glass windows and sent smoke spewing from the towers as residents and tourists watched.

Firefighters said the roof of the 15th century building was not affected by the fire and that the blaze was “under control."

The fire will bring back memories for many of the blaze at Notre Dame in April last year that left the Paris landmark badly damaged.

The cathedral survived a previous fire in 1972.

“It is a part of our history, a part of our heritage,” Nantes Mayor Johanna Rolland told reporters.

French firefighters tackle the fire at Notre Dame cathedral Credit: Benoit Moser/Pompiers de Paris/PA

“We all have these images in mind, this story in our hearts, but at this stage the situation does not seem to be comparable to that of 1972.”

French Prime Minister Jean Castex and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin will be among officials visiting Nantes on Saturday afternoon in reaction to the blaze.