FRENCH people in the city have spoken of their sorrow after the Notre Dame cathedral burst in to flames and suffered major damage.

The iconic landmark in the centre of Paris crumbled as an inferno took hold on Monday.

But French nationals living in Brighton believe the country will come together and do everything they can to help rebuild the historic cathedral.

Ben Denis, 34, manager at Mange Tout in Trafalgar Street, said: “It really is a tragedy and such a huge loss for the country.

“We just hope that it will be resurrected. I think people will come together to do all they can to make sure it is restored”.

Ben was with a British friend when he heard the news and said they were equally horrified by the fire. He said: “Notre Dame has so much history to it, we hope they manage to save all the beautiful art on the inside and rescue the building”.

Gregory Jeanselme, 35, chef at Mange Tout, said restoring the beautiful building back to its original style will take a long time.

He said: “It was built so long ago, it will be a while before they manage to have it standing again, what can you do? It’s such a shame”.

French student Mathieu Lamarre, studying in Brighton, said Notre Dame burning down in France is like Big Ben burning down for the British.

He said: “It is sad, it is tragic, it is our heritage.

“Luckily no one seemed to have been hurt in the fire, so we can try and see it in a more positive way. The French are very good at standing together when tragedy strikes and we will bring it back.”

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, announced a fundraising campaign and promised the cathedral will be rebuilt. It has been reported French billionaires Francois-Henri Pinault, chief executive of the Kering group which owns the Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent brands, and his father, Francois, said they will give more than £86 million towards the restoration.

Pascal Benamari, 45, owner of Bistro Nantais in Hove said: “It’s just really sad news because it’s never going to be the same again unless they are prepared to spend millions on it. We hope they do because when you go to France, you go to Notre Dame”.

The French cathedral was built about 850 years ago. While the interiors were damaged during the French Revolution in the late 1700s, Notre Dame survived both world wars.