Monday Morning Routines Resume In Paris After Friday Night Attacks

Nov 16, 2015
Originally published on November 16, 2015 3:40 pm
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene, live in Paris where people are returning to work this morning on a Monday morning like no other. People are going to work on the street behind me, Rue Saint-Lazare, heading to the metro station; it's near a commuter train station - all this after the unimaginable violence Friday night. This morning, I met a 15-year-old girl outside the train station, her name is Louise Adam(ph) and she was getting a train back to boarding school outside Paris.

LOUISE ADAM: I think that in my boarding school, many people will not come because parents are afraid and - yeah.

GREENE: So your boarding school, a lot of students come and they spend a weekend at home in Paris and then they go to boarding school for the week?

LOUISE: Yes. Yes.

GREENE: OK. And did you think about not going this week?

LOUISE: No, not at all. I'm not afraid at all, actually. What they want is that we are afraid - like, yeah.

GREENE: What they want is that we are afraid - that is the words spoken by a 15-year-old I met outside the train station this morning. Now, moments ago here in Paris at noon local time, France held a moment of silence to mourn the 129 people killed in Friday night's massacre. We are continuing to learn more about the possible mastermind of the attacks, and we'll have more on that throughout the program. The French interior minister has said that overnight, more than 160 locations around the country were raided in the hunt for suspects. He said, quote, "it's just a start. These operations are going to continue. The one who targets the Republic, the Republic will catch him." This is, as we said, a city in mourning. And my colleague, Lauren Frayer, has been attending some of the memorials around the city of Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing in foreign language).

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: The archbishop of Paris celebrated a memorial mass last night with victims' families in the city's Notre Dame Cathedral.

Outside, Parisians and tourists pressed against police barricades in the cold, after dark, to show their support for those inside, as the iconic bells of the medieval church rang out across the city - but you could also hear sirens.

Police convoys still race across Paris. A manhunt is underway for a suspect who police say escaped and is on the loose. As Parisians returned to work today, Notre Dame goes back to being a tourist site. But hanging back, staring up at the soaring cathedral with red eyes was Stuart Touvy(ph), an American here this week on a business trip.

STUART TOUVY: I feel awkward just being a tourist in this city.

FRAYER: It's his first time in Paris.

TOUVY: An hour or two after the attacks, I just walked back from dinner into my hotel. And the concierge - she said, I'm going to ruin your night and look at this map of this - these attacks and it was sobering because the night before, I'd walked around those areas.

FRAYER: Across the city, tents that were supposed to house outdoor Christmas markets remain half-built. Monuments and museums - even Disneyland Paris - are all closed. So families, instead, walk the wide avenues, snapping photos of candles and flowers laid on street corners - impromptu memorials for the dead. French parents dropped their kids off at school this morning. Ola Titi's (ph) sons, aged 4 and 6, wanted to know why their local park, near a concert hall where dozens of people were killed, was barricaded by police this weekend. They couldn't play soccer.

OLA TITI: So I let them listen to the news and I explained to them what happened. And yes, I told them - I say there are people that are - they're bad, so they do this - they kill other people for no reason.

FRAYER: Every week, she used to take her boys to the movies but not this week. Enclosed spaces with many people in the dark remind her of that concert hall where so many people died Friday night. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Paris.

GREENE: All right, Lauren mentioned right there that mom who doesn't want to take her son to the movies. People here in Paris, they're getting so many conflicting messages about what to do and how to respond to all of this. One Parisian, Julie Marx (ph), told me about a message she saw in a large square in Paris.

JULIE MARX: In the place of Republic, you have a big billboard with not afraid, but, actually, we are afraid. When I see the pictures of the people who died, it's all young people - they are 20, 25, 30 years old - it's so sad.

GREENE: Julie is 24 years old and she's been our guide, taking us around Paris throughout the program this morning. She spends a lot of time in the bars and cafes in this city, and she is very aware that she easily could've been in one of the places targeted on Friday. Now, last night, I was walking with her a few blocks from the Bataclan - that's the concert venue where dozens of people were killed on Friday - and it was just this somber scene as we were walking. There were people strolling around, just hardly speaking.

MARX: Normally, in this neighborhood, when you have a lot of people, it's so loud because people like to have drinks and have fun, so they'll laugh - they're laughing at everything. And here, so many people are just grieving, so everything is calm and quiet.

GREENE: Now, there were a few bars with some activity, and we were looking for one.

MARX: Actually, we can maybe go here.

GREENE: Yeah?

MARX: I don't know.

GREENE: It was a bar right on the corner, one of those places in Paris with small tables set up, lining the sidewalk - tables for drinking and people watching, like the restaurants that were sprayed with gunfire on Friday night.

MARX: It was the kind of place where it happened.

GREENE: Julie saw that most of the tables at this place last night were filled, and she was smiling.

MARX: Here, I think it's like some kind of a sign of resistance. I like it.

GREENE: You like it?

MARX: Yes.

GREENE: Maybe we can ask someone about it.

Cassandra Jetton(ph) was nursing a beer at a table outside; she was along with three friends. She is 28 years old. She's a graphic designer from Canada near Toronto. She's lived in Paris now for seven years.

CASSANDRA JETTON: So what would you like to know?

GREENE: I'm - we were just talking as we were walking up that - Julie was saying that she feels happy seeing people out on sidewalks.

JETTON: We were just talking about that, actually. I was just asking them if - do we still feel safe going outside? Like, should we get up and move back to Canada? You can't help but ask yourself these questions - if you still feel safe in your neighborhood. But here we are sitting on the terrace, 100 meters away from where it happened, drinking a beer. So I think it's also kind of to show that we do want to, not fight this, but continue our lives and just keep on going.

GREENE: That was a conversation last night near the theater that was targeted Friday night in Paris, where dozens of people were killed.

GREENE: We're live in our makeshift studio this morning overlooking a boulevard in Paris. And I'm sitting next to Nicole Bacharan. She's a political scientist here in Paris. Nicole, thanks for coming in.

NICOLE BACHARAN: Thanks to you, thanks for coming over.

GREENE: No, it's a very important story and one we wanted to cover and to listen to the voices in this city as it struggles to recover from this. I just wonder, you know, the conversation I had last night in - at that cafe, you know, a group of four people sitting on the street saying they were drinking beers out there, in part, to send a message that life will go on. What do you make of that?

BACHARAN: I know a lot of people who did that. My daughter did that with a friend last night. She went over, sat at a terrace at a cafe and she told me, we thought it was an act of resistance. You know, it's silly, it's tiny but it means people are brave. And, I think, right now, Paris, which is a very cosmopolitan city - you know, the area that was hit is the most cosmopolitan area in the city - people are scared. I mean, they don't feel safe but they don't back down. They're really angry. They're really angry.

GREENE: I was - you mentioned the fear, I was really surprised. I spoke to one man this morning in the metro. He works at a coffee shop and telling me that any customer who was coming up, he was suspicious, which must be a horrible way to be living right now.

BACHARAN: It is pretty horrible. I mean, that's the goal of terrorism, right, to make us all paranoid. I mean, we are looking at each other, but, right now, what I feel in Paris is not so much suspicion of each other but a great need of warmth and solidarity and talking. I mean, you know the Parisian - you have been here, I know, many times.

GREENE: Sure, it's a very warm society.

BACHARAN: (Laughter) and people are - I mean, they're mean, very impatient, they complain about everything. But when times are really tough, and today is horrible, we kind of stick together.

GREENE: That warmth that you're describing and the occasional sort of not-so-warm but mostly warmth, I mean, as we know, is being mixed with people talking about - we want to go to war. What does that mean for France and this society right now?

BACHARAN: This is very complex because we know we are at war. I mean, there are a lot of discussions whether, you know, we are at war in a judicial sense, in a military sense. Is this war because it's terror but those people are the fighters? But when you are in a scene like what happened on Friday night, you know it is war. It is a modern war. It is an ugly war - wars are ugly. But in France, in Europe, in the United States, I suspect, we know that the danger comes from outside and from inside. So we are at war but it's a very complex war that needs to be defined by our authority. I think they're trying to do a good job - it's the police, it's the intelligence, it's the judicial system but it's also the military outside of France.

GREENE: All right. We've been speaking with Nicole Bacharan. She's a political scientist here in Paris. Thank you very much.

BACHARAN: Thanks to you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.