A woman places a candle with others at the Place Saint-Michel the day after Notre-Dame Cathedral suffered heavy damage from a massive fire that devastated large parts of the gothic structure in Paris, France, April 16, 2019.
A woman places a candle with others at the Place Saint-Michel the day after Notre-Dame Cathedral suffered heavy damage from a massive fire that devastated large parts of the gothic structure in Paris, France, April 16, 2019.

For the first time in more than 200 years, France's historic Notre Dame Cathedral will be dark and silent for Christmas.

The iconic Gothic structure was ravaged in April by a fire that destroyed parts of the roof, the spire and vault.

"This is the first time since the French Revolution that there will be no midnight Mass" at Notre Dame, said cathedral rector Patrick Chauvet.

Christmas services have been moved a mile away to Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois, a church dating back to the 7th century.

There has been a Christmas service every year at the UNESCO World Heritage site through France's sometimes tumultuous history. The only time it was forced to close was during the anti-Catholic revolutionary period in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

President Emmanuel Macron has set a timetable of five years to complete repairs on the eight-centuries-old structure.

French prosecutors have opened an investigation into the cause of the fire, suggesting that it might have been the fault of a stray cigarette or an electrical malfunction.