Paris was subdued Saturday morning after the horror of Friday night. Parisians stroll the sidewalks. Shops are open, and yet there is a somber mood in the air. Pedestrians exchange brief glances, but even these convey, "You feel it too? Are you OK? We’ll be fine. But it’s so sad."
In the Tuileries, children play impromptu games of football. Couples stroll hand in hand. Perhaps holding onto each other a little tighter, a little closer. In the distance the occasional siren is heard - normally no big deal, but today every siren is imbued with more. A soundtrack to a horror movie.
On every corner, newspapers with large headlines shout "horror," as constant reminders of last night’s bloodbath.
And yet Parisians continue to live their life. Sidewalk cafes are filled with people. It is Saturday after all, and there is still time for lunch and a glass of wine. But the talk is all of last night. And normally boisterous conversations filled with laughter are toned down.
Everywhere, people check cell phones, catching up with the latest news. Small shakes of the head as they come to grips with the sheer number of dead and injured.
A chill in the soul
Paris is still Paris today. The elegant architecture, the graceful boulevards, all lying proud in the chill November air. But there is now another chill that goes deep into the soul of the City of Light.
However, Parisians are a proud lot. And they appreciate all the messages of condolences, support and solidarity coming in from all corners of the world. It does give comfort. Paris will fight back in the way that only Paris can. Lovers will still stroll hand in hand along the Seine. There will be art, music and fashion. It will take more than this horrible event to change the character of the city. There is, after all, a lot of history here, and Paris has seen worse things, although right now it is hard to remember what those were.
Yes, life will go on here, and everyone here knows that. The chill of terror will not change this city. Parisians won’t let it. So today, as they mourn the events of the previous evening, Parisians continue to be Parisians. But they will never forget November 13.