I found myself uncharacteristically laying low this past Friday evening, having decided to stay in with a mixed group of French and American friends at my flat in Paris’ 10th arrondissement. As I opened my laptop to check a dessert recipe we’d planned to make, I found an article announcing that there had been a shooting in a restaurant near République. As I broke up the chocolate, measured out the butter, and began to melt the two together, my friend turned on the news to confirm the article’s claim.
We slowly began to learn of the additional attack locations and the hostage situation unfolding in the Bataclan, all located in hip neighborhoods typically packed with weekend revelers; we could have easily been in any of these places ourselves. The four of us – one Frenchman and three American ladies – proceeded to sit in shock, half-listening to the news and half-glued to our laptops and cell phones, simultaneously trying to find out more details and alert loved ones that we were safe.
Over the next four hours we would come to understand the devastation that hit Paris Friday night, to some small degree. It became clear that the attack locations that initially seemed arbitrary – a football stadium, a music venue, restaurants, the streets of Paris – were strategically chosen to propagate fear, particularly amongst young people. These attacks were not carried out in locations with political or religious significance; they were perpetrated against a tolerant generation, perhaps one of the most our world has seen.
As a New Yorker, this type of event is regrettably familiar. I felt great pride when President Obama swiftly made a statement pledging the United States’ commitment to support France, and equal respect for President Hollande, who rushed to the scene at the Bataclan. And in the carnage, this display of the cruelty and violence all to prevalent of our modern world, the kindness of the masses and beauty of solidarity provided some level of comfort.
Across social media platforms, the world began to show support and love for the City of Paris, the families of the innocent lives lost, and tenants of liberty, freedom, and justice that we hold so dear. And in Paris, people responded to brutality with humanity: available taxis were free of charge, individuals began using a #PorteOuverte hashtag to open their doors to stranded strangers in need of a safe haven, and Facebook quickly implemented a Safety Check program that contacted users in Paris and asked them to mark themselves as safe (or in need of help) so friends and family were aware of their status.
Saturday found me truly thankful to be safe in my flat in the 10th, the neighborhood of Le Petit Cambodge and Le Carillon. The ambiance around Paris was a somber one; a Sunday metro ride was filled with luggage-carrying tourists and fatigued local faces, sitting through an eerily silent ride. Over the past two days, an overwhelming sense of sorrow for the city I hold so dear actively combined with a feeling of hope, albeit admittedly wavering. I hope that Paris will soon see peace after a year of cruel violence. And I hope that in standing together, without fear or faiblesse, the people of Paris, France, and the world will become ever stronger and united in a common pursuit of a safer global society, one in which terror simply cannot spread.
All of us at The HiP Paris Blog and Haven in Paris share our deepest condolences for the families who lost loved ones in this horror, and stand in support of Paris, France, and their people. Our thoughts are too with those affected by recent tragic events receiving far less media attention: the bombings in Beirut and Baghdad, the earthquakes in Japan and Mexico, and everywhere else in the world where tragedies strike all too frequently.
- Through the heartache, Paris establishments are seeking to provide some refuge. Seymour+, for example, will be open to guests free of charge for the rest of the month and is calling for therapists, psychologists, and other well-being professionals to reach out if they feel they can use the space to help the public.
- Kasia Dietz shares her emotional take on Friday’s events and how she’s seen the City of Paris is come together in the aftermath.
- Telegraph covers how people around the world are showing support for Paris and those lost so tragically.