‘Everyone is devastated’: Sydneysiders in Paris recount Notre Dame inferno

A Sydney woman who visited Notre Dame just hours before it went up in flames has spoken of the locals' devastation after losing their famed cathedral.

Mary Dullard is currently in Paris on holiday and visited the sacred sight on Monday with friend Lan Leung around lunchtime after seeing her twin sister Alice Whyte complete a marathon in the city the previous day.

Mary Dullard out the front of the Notre Dame in Paris, just hours before fire gutted the historic cathedral.

"It was incredible, so beautiful," the mother-of-two from Bondi told the Herald.

"(Now) everyone is devastated. The huge plumes of smoke reminded me of the pics of the smoke from the twin towers, it looked really crazy."

Alice Whyte, Mary Dullard and Lan Leung near the Eiffel Tower on Sunday.

Ms Whyte, who ran in the Paris Marathon on Sunday, said the "huge plume of weird yellow smoke" above the buildings where they were staying a few kilometres away was "unnerving".

"There’s been a huge security/military presence in the city all weekend," she said, due to the marathon and yellow vest protests.

"So we initially freaked out something security-wise was happening."

A day after her 42-kilometre run, Ms Whyte opted to delay going to Notre Dame, a decision she now regrets. "I thought I might go later when there were less crowds – wish I had now," she said.

"Our poor waiter was crying last night. He was so devastated about the fire."

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