After 5 months of not being in the city where I studied and felt I grew up in, I finally flew back for New Years to see my friends and the city I cherish.
My days in Paris were spent catching up with friends, having a glass of wine in my favourite bars, eating pains au chocolat in Parc Montsouris and wandering its streets in the glorious weather. However this time, it was also a time of reflection and sadness.
Being so far away from Paris at the time of the November 13th attacks and seeing the images on the screen of the roads and bars I knew that were attacked, the events almost felt unreal. I yearned to be in the city to show my support, my solidarity and my grief for the victims as well as for the city. Why them? Why was it not me? These attacks were senseless and sickening.
I stood reading the many heartbreaking and gripping messages hung up along the metal gates opposite the Bataclan in memory of the victims. Confronted with sadness and grief, I lit my candle and placed it among the hundreds of others.
As I continued to walk down Boulevard Voltaire, I saw groups of people playing pétanque, a man leisurely strolling and reading his paper and two children holding their parent’s hands laughing and crossing the road. It still felt like the Paris I knew. I can’t say Paris is untainted by the events but there is undoubtedly a strong sense of solidarity and unity in the air.