Amber Minogue is an ACIS Tour Manager and Paris resident. We asked her to share some insight into what life is and has been like in Paris since the events in Mid-November. These are her observations on the ways in which Paris has responded to the tragic incidents:
Friday the 13th of November was truly a saddening and shocking day for Parisians. That feeling of it being somewhere else, happening to someone else was no longer true. It was happening here, to us. People quickly started calling friends, checking in on Facebook, are you ok? Is everyone you know ok? And, for the vast majority of people that was true. Sadly for some it was not the case. The night of the 13th the police acted quickly shutting down transport and locking people in so Parisians opened their doors to those that could not get home, a hashtag quickly sprung up #porteouverte or ‘open door’ so people could find a place to stay. Some camped in cinemas and restaurants; they pulled together in a time of need.
The next day the streets were empty, it was all anyone was talking about, there was an overwhelming feeling of shock and sadness. Parisians have a somewhat unfair reputation for being unfriendly but the week following the attack people were kinder to each other, small things like holding a door just that bit longer, smiling at each other on the street or in the metro, a general feeling of empathy pervaded the air – we were all in this together, united in the face of something truly devastating. People were touched by the outpouring of support; monuments around the world were lit up red, white and blue, artists created beautiful, sad images of Paris.
Then came resistance! People headed out, cautious at first then braver. They posted pictures of themselves sitting on terraces, or out in bars or clubs or at concerts. They would not be got down! Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine that was targeted in an earlier attack’s front cover read ‘they have guns, we have champagne” and showed a man drinking a glass of champagne that poured from holes in his body. People started using humour as a way of showing they were not afraid, that they would not let this get in the way of their lives.
And now? Of course it is not forgotten, neighbourhoods that were once associated with pleasure are now tinged with sadness. But life is, for the most, back to normal; the streets are busy with Christmas shoppers. Life goes on. One of the bars has re-opened and is busy as usual, busier maybe. Paris is cold and beautiful and full of lights in the lead up to Christmas. People are worrying about what presents to buy, what to cook for dinner, whether granny will drink too much champagne like last year and fall asleep before dessert is served. They are looking forward to counting in the New Year and seeing what 2016 brings.