Video report by ITV News Europe Editor James Mates
But the cathedral still stands and an effort to rebuild the spire, exactly as it was, has begun.
And it means using around 1,000 giant oak trees - many older than the original spire was - so they can be crafted into a replacement structure which will one day take its place in the Parisian skyline.
Lumberjacks scope out the 'Cathedral Forest' for oaks that stand tall and straight up to 30 metres high. It takes 250 years for the trees to get to this height.
"It is the end of its life in the forest," said Forestry Engineer Pauline Delord. "But we know it is the beginning of a new life - and what a new life for this one going in Notre Dame.
"This life might be even longer than the life he had in the forest."
Chief architect Philippe Villeneuve said that they decided to use wood, rather than a more modern material, as it is extremely durable.
"Wood is, ultimately, a very modern solution," he said. "Wood grows, you cut it and then it regrows."