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Paris, We Stand Behind You

Life in Paris is certainly never dull. Maybe that’s what we thrive on, maybe we just thrive on living in the world’s most beautiful, most romantic and now the most thrilling city. One close friend who is a regular visitor, but has cancelled her annual trip to Paris wrote, “Your challenge might be to become a war correspondent to chronicle events that will turn into a book.”

She couldn’t be more wrong. We aren’t afraid. We are sad, we are concerned, we are acutely aware of what’s going on around us, but we aren’t afraid. We’re here, and we’re living it, so we aren’t dependent on sensationalized news reports that are designed to instill fear. We’re on the streets, we’re in the cafés and we’re going about our daily lives while listening to news for the updated events.

This is easier for those of us who haven’t been directly affected by the events, of course. One of our staff was among those who heard the firecrackers near Place de la République Sunday evening thinking the sounds were bullets or explosives, sending them all running for cover and for fear of their lives. She’s not taking it as lightly as the rest of us, still shook from the fear.

New York Times journalist, Liz Alderman, wrote an article published yesterday that the “French Return to Cafes in a Show of Defiance.” “Residents say they refuse to let the attacks interrupt their way of life.”

To quote the article: “’I can’t say that we’re not afraid,’” admitted Ms. Dancourt, who lives on the Boulevard Voltaire, a central location of the shootings. ‘As soon as people hear a loud noise, they look around. And even if we didn’t know the victims personally, it’s clear that this could have happened to any one of us.’ But compared with the terror and repression that the Islamic State represents, Ms. Dancourt continued, ‘we have a fantastic life: We are as free as the air. Their acts make us even more determined to show that we will never give up our freedoms.’”

In New York Magazine today, Lisa Anselmo wrote: “’#JeSuisenTerrasse’ has emerged as a popular social-media meme — in the vein of the #JeSuisCharlie campaign. But this time, it’s more than a show of solidarity; it’s a big middle finger to those who would dare think they could kill the spirit of the city. People are filling terrace tables around town, tweeting defiant selfies with the hashtag #OccupyTerrasse, reclaiming their city by simply sitting down outside Aux Deux Amis or Café Charlot with friends for a drink.”

As it turns out, I was closer than I might have thought to the recent events. While the attacks on the 11th district cafés and the Bataclan were taking place Friday night, I was obliviously having dinner at Chez Janou with friends, having a grand old time. (I wrote about this in Monday’s Nouvellettre®.)

In an article in the New York Times by Dan Bilefsky on November 16th, titled “Waiter Killed in Paris Attacks Is Remembered as a Bon Vivant,” I learned that Guillaume Le Dramp, a regular waiter at Chez Janou, took the night off to attend a friend’s birthday party on the terrace of La Belle Equipe. He sadly lost his life there with 18 others.

The article reports: “’We are all like one big family’ said Jean-François Roux, the owner of Chez Janou, who goes by Jeff and is known for offering free glasses of wine and Calvados liqueur to staff members and customers alike. ‘We all know each other. We all go out together. Almost everyone on the terrace on Friday at La Belle Équipe was in the restaurant business, and the whole neighborhood is in shock and mourning. Everyone knew and liked Guillaume.’”

This morning, as I write this, we’re listening to the developments of the raids and attacks in Saint-Denis. This kind of news is to be expected as the hunt is on to find the terrorists and annihilate them as quickly as possible. We fully expect even more until we can all rest a bit easier that the worst is over.

I am not afraid. Yes, it might be more like me to go there to see it all for myself than hide at home waiting for it all to blow over. Maybe my friend is right, I should have been a war correspondent to chronicle events…but it won’t be to “turn it into a book.” No, it will be to fully experience life, to be very present and see it for myself, to feel the emotions and know when I do die that life was really worth living.

If you take no risks, if you have no pain, you will also have no gain. I’ll take the risk, I’ll endure the pain, and I’ll welcome the gain, thank you.

Paris, we stand behind you. Vive la France!

Special Note: I urge you to turn off CNN and Fox News. These media will give you sensationalist reporting that encourages viewers in order to keep up their ratings. Instead, rely on the French national news channel, France 24 where you can stream the news live on your computers and smart devices, as it really happens, told in a more factual way.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

(at Roger La Grenouille)

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P.S. We just heard from the FYI network that, although the Tiny House World series is still premiering on Saturday, they’ve moved our Paris episode to Saturday, December 5th. They’re doing so in response to what happened last week. What a shame we won’t be their first show! I think they are making a big, big mistake, don’t you? They should be showing their solidarity instead!


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