The days that shook Paris

Disclaimer: I’m just a normal girl, living in Paris. Not some crazy news savvy journalist whose been keeping up with every news story

A Parisien newspaper holds the headline ‘Paris 11th Septemeber’, clearly comparing this bout of terror attacks to those in New York in 2001. I was 7 when the twin towers were hit and remember the day as if it were yesterday. The attacks in Paris are terrifying but, in my opinion, nowhere near the level of death or fear of 9/11.

The atmosphere here is kinda weird. I heard about the first attacks on Charlie Hebdo staff members at about 2pm on Wednesday. I’m almost certain I was just scrolling twitter after dropping F at ballet and saw the words ‘terror attack’ and ‘Paris’. The details obviously unfolded on the news and via social media. I didn’t feel at all unsafe as I assumed the police were about to catch and arrest the suspects. Obviously it’s a sad situation and you feel for the families of those who were murdered but it was the same as if it was happening in London or Germany or America or anywhere. When I heard that the 3 suspects changed cars I began to panic, they knew what they were doing and appeared to be quicker and smarter than the hundreds of police officers trying to catch them.

Unfortunately this was not the end of the tragedy and 3 days later, 17 people are dead and many are seriously injured. These were disgusting actions carried out by cold blooded murderers; thats the only way to understand the situation. Religion doesn’t play a part in my opinion. No Muslim man, woman, boy or girl should have to apologise for the actions of those who kill in the name of their religion and this LBC conversation is a great comeback to people insisting Muslims should apologise.

Enough of opinions, I just wanted to share the general feeling of Paris at the moment, maybe what you can’t gather from watching the news or seeing the stories online. I first ventured into central Paris on Thursday morning for the 2 minutes silence in front of the Notre Dame. The train and metro journeys were fine but there were definitely way more armed officers patrolling Saint Lazare station. I met Evie and she bought up the interesting point that the photos online of guards with guns walking around the Eiffel Tower are a little misleading as they are always there, before any of this happened! They just walk around making you feel safe and extremely uneasy at the same time. The media were out in full force at the Notre Dame, cameras in the faces of those crying and interviews being set up.

That afternoon I heard what sounded like a gunshot and then screams. It turns out that it must’ve just been a car backfiring or something but people were so on edge and treating every like little noise or commotion as an attack. Sitting on the metro, you defintely feel a sense tension; no ones looks linger for too long. You don’t want anyone to think you’re up to anything dodgey. I’m usually happy to chat to strangers but right now I’ve felt it’s easier to be as anonymous as possible.

When crap events like this happen, you realise you have a whole load of random people that care for you. Which is really nice most of the time. Some people want to check you’re ok and some just want to know if you’ve got any drama to tell them. It wasn’t until Friday that I was actually scared to leave the house; a day full of explosions and hostage taking made me doubt the sensibility of venturing 40 minutes to Frankie’s place for dinner. I decided to just go because I couldn’t face staying in and seeing more news stories come in. The journey there felt tense once again because no one on the metro seemed to be speaking or laughing and you didn’t have your usual accordion or saxophone player filling in the silence. After a few hours of dinner and distraction though the journey home was fine, if a little quiet. Well, very quiet for a Friday night. I did the 15 minute walk home from the metro as normal, not thinking twice about walking home in the dark.

Last night I went out in the early evening and the atmosphere was almost back to normal, although again, it was extremely quiet. Train platforms were literally empty. The march today is going to be a huge event and it’s a expected that more than a million people will attend. I’m still undecided whether or not to go but will more than likely give it a miss. Obviously security will be high but I can’t imagine that there won’t be a select few wanting to cause trouble.

I was talking to a friend about how scary it was to be in a place where these crazy gunmen were on the loose. He replied with ‘This happens everyday in some places around the world’ – very true. We’re so lucky we don’t live somewhere where this is a daily occurrence.

I hope Paris and France as a country can move past this in a positive way; reflect on what’s happened, mourn those who were lost and continue to express freedom of speech.  Let’s hope next week is better than last.

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Mary

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