After terror: How Paris rediscovered its joie de vivre

Oliver Gee
Oliver Gee - [email protected]
After terror: How Paris rediscovered its joie de vivre
Photo: AFP

VIDEO: Paris is about to mark the first anniversary of the massacre of 130 mainly young people in the city by jihadists. Despite the devastation "Generation Bataclan" say they are in good health.


Friday evening in Paris will be a poignant night.
Almost a year ago to the day, terrorists armed with Kalashnikovs and suicide bomb belts went on a rampage across Paris, killing 130 people. 
Such was the devastation on Friday November 13th 2015 it felt the city would never feel the same again.
After the murder came a communal grief.
The first few days and weeks were subdued and tense, especially in the youthful and trendy and normally carefree bars of the 10th and 11th arrondissements, that were targeted by the jihadists.
Emeric, whose apartment is next door to the Belle Equipe cafe where 19 people were killed heard the gunfire from his bedroom.
"The days after were horrible for all Parisians, not only for those who witnessed it," he told The Local.
"People looked like they were floating in a haze trying to understand what had happened," he said.
"We lost it for a few weeks," said Viviane Chil, who works in a bar in the 10th arrondissement (see video below). "But then it just went back to normal and that's what great about this city."
"I actually asked my friend today if we were still in a state of emergency and she said 'yes'. I had forgotten," she added.
"Everybody goes out. It hasn't changed," she said.
Her words were echoed by many young people The Local spoke with in Paris this week.
The overwhelming consensus among these young people famously dubbed the "Generation Bataclan" - was that life is back to normal and has been for a while.
"One year after the most important thing is that we are going on. We continue to have a great night life," said a young man named Matthieu.
His friend Delphine said: "The best way we can pay tribute to the victims is to live like we did before."
(Casa Nostra bar. AFP)
That's not to say people are not still scared or twitchy.
While recently visiting the Casa Nostra restaurant, which was targeted in the attacks, The Local saw one woman leave her terrace table in panic when a car pulled up outside the bar. 
While such incidents are uncommon, the manager of the restaurant, Dimitri Mohamadi, says he still regularly has nightmares about men with Kalashnikovs. 
"Ever since last year, whenever we hear a noise we jump, when we see a black car pulling up we get scared," he told The Local.
"I am scared, of course, and everyone is scared. We are living in fear, all the time, always. But we have to return to the terraces, we have to continue living, if we submit to terror then we don't can't go forward."
And even if life goes on the anniversary promised to be a painful one for many.
Several staff at other the bars targeted by terrorists told The Local they were uncomfortable with the media attention that comes with anniversaries like this.
"We understand there is a story, but we just want to move on, not backwards," said a member of staff at Le Carillon bar, who asked not to be named.
And for them and the hundreds who suffered physical trauma will always be scars.
"They day we forget what happened will be the day we die," said the staff member.
While young people in Paris say their social life has returned to normal, readers of The Local based in the capital, say on the whole, life is as it was, even if security is a little more noticeable.
Paris based readers of The Local shared a similar sentiment, writing on our Facebook page.
Marie Glen Devon wrote that she avoided some tourist hotspots and found it "unnerving" to have to open her purse for security guards at stores. 
"But everything is as it was before," she added. 
Chris Balchin added: "There's more obvious security and I am certainly more aware of the situation," he said, adding that he too finds himself looking for exits in restaurants. 
"But it's pretty much back to normal. Life has to go on."
Despite the cold, Parisians will flock to the bars and cafés on Sunday the 13th as they always have, and always will.
And in doing so will pay the best possible tribute to those who died.


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