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A mum who took a selfie with her son in front of Notre-Dame cathedral had no idea it was on fire.
Suzanne Howard, 47, from Hathersage, Derbyshire, only realised the devastating truth when her boyfriend messaged her, pointing out the cloud of smoke coming from the 850-year-old church.
They were in the French capital on a day trip to celebrate their son, Billy's, 11th birthday.
After visiting the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, the family decided to round off their day at the iconic cathedral, but in their eagerness to capture the special moment, they didn't spot the black smoke billowing from the roof of the grand structure.
Suzanne said: "We had taken a couple of selfies and I had sent them to my partner Phil, who messaged me back saying, 'It looks like it's on fire.'
"Until then I hadn't really noticed the smoke, we just thought it was dust in the air from the renovation work that was going on. We had no idea that it was actually on fire.
"It's quite surreal looking back at the photographs and thinking about everything that would go on to happen - we were just clueless."
Suzanne was on a day trip with her son to celebrate his 11th birthday. Credit: Caters
The mum-of-one says Monday had been their only full day in Paris during the trip, so they had tried to visit as many of the city's attractions as possible.
She said: "When we got to Notre-Dame, Billy said to me, 'The doors are open, can we go in!?' I told him, 'Yes we can,' but just before we took a couple of selfies and other pictures in the area.
"We were just starting to walk towards the building and that's when the police came out and started shouting, 'Go!' and telling everyone to leave and get back."
Had the pair arrived just a few minutes earlier, things might have been very different.
Suzanne said: "It's scary to think that if we hadn't gone to a tourist shop just before, we would have been there 10 minutes sooner and actually would have been inside it when it went up in flames.
It was only when her partner pointed out the smoke coming from the roof that Suzanne realised what was going on. Credit: Caters
"We stood and watched as the smoke was getting heavier and heavier. I thought that it might be a residential block nearby - I didn't even realise when we were stood there that it might be the cathedral.
"It wasn't until later that we were stood on the bridge and we could see the spire on fire.
"As we were walking away we saw a massive plume of yellow smoke go up into the air which actually blocked out the sun. That was the moment the spire collapsed."
Since the tragic fire ripped through Notre-Dame on Monday, around €1 billion (£865 million / $1.1bn) has been raised to help restore the iconic building, including €200m (£173m / $225m) from Gucci boss François-Henri Pinault.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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