The backside of Notre Dame is the creation of Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, the young architect in charge of the cathedral’s restoration in the 19th century. It looks nothing like the grandiose main entrance, whose hundreds of medieval stone carvings make it one of the most recognisable images of Paris around the world.
The view from behind is different from what it was just a few months ago. During the great fire of April 15, 2019, the cathedral lost the spire that Viollet-le-Duc erected, and sections of the roof are hidden under protective scaffolding. But the structure still shows its splendor at night, the flat, dark silhouette of its flying buttresses visible through the trees.