hello friends. if you’ve been following along on instagram, you will know that i was just in paris for the past week on a holiday… i opted not to blog during this time (i barely even answered emails the whole time) and to really be in the moment there. i am back safely to the czech republic, but something has really been on my mind and i can’t exactly talk about paris without referring to what happened there on friday night.
before spending the past week in paris, the city to me was one of a handful of my favorites in europe, a city that i knew i would probably visit again and again. but after this transformative week, it will firmly remain in my heart forever. of course, i can’t really write much more about this week without getting some of my thoughts and feelings out because they’ve dominated what many of us have been thinking or feeling for the past forty plus hours.
my mother and i had just experienced a fabulous week in the french capital and already had six days of wonder and enchantment. as you do in the city of light. the weather was unseasonably warm the whole time and it was good to be reunited and enjoy the city together. on the seventh day, friday the 13th, it was our last full day in the city so we were trying to do all of those last-minute paris things. things like snacking on pastries at pain et des idees boulangerie in the canal st. martin area and strolling around the canal. showing my mother champs elysees and seeing how she lit up at seeing the louvre pyramid for the first time. being there on day one of the “noel village”! (hey, november 13th is a little early for a christmas market, but when you run into one, you don’t fight it!)
earlier that evening, i got a chance to meet up with edna and her boyfriend in the heart of the st. michel area. after we said our goodbyes, my mum and i went to our 8:30pm dinner reservation at a little french restaurant on rue de la bûcherie
(near the ile de la cite) that i had been wanting to try for some time and spent about an hour and a half having a memorable last dinner in paris.
we tried escargot (achievement unlocked!), sipped kir royale and delicious french wine, and feasted upon seafood. it was an unforgettable meal, and it would continue to be unforgettable as one of the last patrons was leaving the dining room, he told us, “i just thought you needed to know that there’s been an explosion… some shootings near paris not long ago”, and warned us not to take the metro home. (most people were avoiding the metro at this point)
details for a long time were so unclear… nobody really knew what was going on at all. “welcome to paris,” our waiter quipped with a grimace, as he brought us our check. he had made it sound like it happened on the outskirts of paris (perhaps, at that time, he was referring to the stadium explosion).
i don’t really remember leaving the restaurant and starting to walk home except that i felt numb. a group of girls approached us and told us the shootings were happening in multiple places in the center of the city and to be careful. we walked with them for a little while. i felt disoriented and didn’t take the normal path home that we had walked there. rue des
looked practically deserted, which made me so scared. that was the worst part… the walking home and not knowing if someone is going to come around a corner with a gun at any moment. you just don’t feel safe when you hear the phrase “multiple places”. at this point, it was clear it was some sort of coordinated attack. the walk home seemed to take forever.
i think nobody in paris got a lot of sleep that night. i stayed glued to the computer/phone as more reports were rolling in about the bataclan concert. about the rising death toll. about the closing of the borders. the more i read, the worse i felt. finally i tried to get a few hours of sleep, punctuated by calls about our well-being.
i still feel sick when i read about it. the city i was reading about was literally the city right outside of my window, where i just came in from, looking out over place jussieu, apparently safe in the 5th eme, as the terrorists were for some reason targeting the nightlife of the hip 10th eme where we were that very morning.
i had planned to take in my last morning in paris before heading to charles de gaulle with a walk around, but i didn’t want to really even leave the building, as some people did, gathering around the restaurants and club as a site of remembrance and mourning… that is a natural thing to do. there were the normal joggers out and about (can’t get those parisian joggers down) and some people just going about their morning as usual. from the point i woke up i felt so nauseated and on the brink, like i could just come unhinged at any point… no sleep certainly does not help this sort of condition! i opted to stay in, spending the morning cleaning the flat and thinking. forcing myself to eat even though i had no appetite. leaving again into the light of the day felt too strange; like a solemn new day was dawning… like the light was gracing the city whether we were ready for it to come or not after the never-ending night of violence and uncertainty.
the part that really gets me was just how senseless these attacks were. about how they were targeting large scenes of normal people enjoying their friday evening. this could have been anyone.
i am grateful that my mother and i both made it home safely. grateful that we enjoyed a beautiful week in one of the most vibrant and lively cities in the world and got to see and meet the kind people of paris and visitors in their element before the tone was marred with uncertainty, fear, and mourning. these terrible attacks brought me much closer to the city… something i didn’t really expect that would happen. yesterday, i was so ready to be back at home where my husband was waiting for me in our peaceful city. today i am emotional for so many different reasons and not ready to resume life “as normal” quite yet. (fortunately it’s a long holiday weekend here, thank goodness)
i am looking forward to talking about the great memories and good times later, but today i’m just enjoying being at home, safe, in thought, and reflecting on paris. and maybe enjoying a macaron or two.
one more thank you to friends who checked up on me in the past day or two. xoxo
linking up with travel tuesday