He said France "will rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral even more beautifully" as he addressed the nation little more than 24 hours after the devastating fire. The iconic bell towers survived, but the cathedral's spire and its 13th century roof collapsed.
Hours after President Macron - whose government had previously refused to spend more than a few million euros repairing the 855-year-old cathedral - launched an appeal for funds while it was still ablaze, nearly €700 million had been raised.
In a stroke of good timing, sculptures of the Twelve Apostles and four New Testament evangelists that adorned the cathedral had been lifted off the building last week, before the fire, for restoration work in the southwestern city of Perigueux. The building was heavily damaged in the blaze and two-thirds of the cathedral's wooden roof were destroyed in the fire.
"Just watching that steeple fall into the church, just brought back bad memories", said Ed Cuff.More news: Ovechkin punch puts Carolina rookie into concussion protocol
"Notre Dame is one of the world's great treasures, and we're thinking of the people of France in your time of grief", Obama said.
The Paris Prosecutor's office, which was investigating, said it was treating it as an accident.
Construction on Notre Dame - French for "Our Lady" - began in the 12th century and continued for almost 200 years.
The exact cause of the blaze wasn't known, but French media quoted the fire brigade as saying it was "potentially linked" to a 6 million euro ($6.8 million) renovation project on the church's spire and its 250 tons of lead.
Pierluigi Pericolo, in charge of restoration and security at the St. Donatian basilica in Nantes, said it could take two to five years just to secure Notre Dame, given its size. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, also tweeted a promise that Cupertino will be helping finance the rebuilding efforts.More news: Forza Street Announced And Released On PC, Coming To Mobile
Laurent Prades says the high altar, which was installed in 1989, was hit and harmed by the cathedral's spire when it came crashing down in the flames. "Nobody knows if it is a functioning state or will need to be restored", Bertrand de Feydeau, vice president of preservation group Fondation du Patrimoine, told AP. Macron is holding a special Cabinet meeting Wednesday dedicated to the Notre Dame disaster.
"Our Lady of Paris in flames", Macron said, "I am sad tonight to see this part of us burn".
"We have everything to be able to rebuild it in exactly the same way", Riester told France Inter, adding that the government was looking at ways to encourage donations.
On Thursday, the public got a first ground-level look at the statues, representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists, when a huge crane whisked them into the air before lowering them onto a truck.More news: Facebook Messenger dark mode now available for all users