Staying close to home after the Paris Attack.

Despite staying within the confines of the local neighbourhood, the day after the Paris Attack was a strange but also curiously normal day for me.

It just so happened that I was in Paris representing Greenland this week at the kind invitation of Airbnb who were running Airbnb Open 2015. The event was a multi-day get-together for hosts and employees to learn about the latest trends in the sharing economy, travel, tourism and hospitality sector.

Today was supposed to be the final day of the event, but all activities were cancelled in the aftermath of the attack. We were advised by Parisian authorities to stay put where ever we were. So I stayed at home today with my caring hosts Geraldine, Hubert and their family.

To begin with I wanted to show this picture. My host family began a tradition recently where they wrote what they wished for that week on their water bottle. The last bottle had words like joy and love on it. Today, the new bottle had one single word inscribed: protection.

Protection, please

Their home is in the 19th district, relatively close to many of the places that were attacked last night… I had a scrumptious slow breakfast, watched the youngest kid paint leaves, and we attempted to discuss the horrors of the evening before. My host family were understandably shaken by all the events; later they also found out the dreadful news that they had friends who were victims in the terror attack. My heart goes out to them and all other people who have been affected by the event. Words can’t say much.

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A refuge in a safe house

Scrumptious breakfast with fresh baguette, local honey, jam and yoghurt.

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Painting leaves.

Anyway I stayed in my home…until I felt trapped. I felt like I had to get outside, although I still stayed within a 15 minute radius between Telegraphe and Jourdain metro stations. The rest of my day ended up being rather sombre but delightful. It was reassuring to see that shops and cafes were still open and people were leading normal lives.The only sign that there was an attack the evening before in this little area of Paris were posters pasted around the church in Jourdain and the church bells ringing longer than usual.

So this trip, I did not visit the Eiffel Tower (my third time in Paris and I still haven’t seen it!), nor did I do anything touristy. I wasn’t planning to do that anyway as there was no time for it, but I think I did something better: I managed to get a feel for life in Paris without visiting a museum or seeing any of the famous sights. I perused a few sweet bookstores and boutiques. I observed real life unfold in front of me as Parisians lined up at charming speciality stores to buy cheese, meat, seafood and pastries. I LOVE the small, original, small business culture they have here.

With help from my hosts, I got my hair cut at the most amazingly decorated hair salon I’ve ever seen, by an original hairdresser with his own methodology. From the very beginning the hair cut was an experience – it was located in a gorgeous flower store and it took half an hour for him to start our appointment! He deserves his own post, if I ever get around to making it, but what I will say was that I didn’t really get a choice as to how to cut my hair. Yes, really.

I also had the humbling experience of speaking with normal Parisians (like my hair dresser) about the Paris attack, many of whom are still reeling over shock of it. Some will never get over the loss of it. I felt fear, sorrow, heartbreak but within that also some hope in the goodness of people. Taxi drivers and regular people were driving people for free to safety and opening up their homes as refuges. The goodness in people is so apparent. 

I don’t have any smart or wise conclusion to this little narrative. I just wanted to say that when tragedy strikes, life should go on as normal where possible, and I think that it did today for many Parisians. And I enjoyed experiencing life in a little microcosm on the outskirts of central Paris.

To end in a positive way, after a few hours outside I came home to find a painted leaf now decked in gorgeous colours, painted by Geraldine and Hubert’s youngest kid. It’s a bright symbol of hope, don’t you think?

PS If any of you are visiting Paris and want to stay with a host family, this one is lovely. They really are so genuinely kind and interested in you – and their home is gorgeous! I would never have stayed here if it wasn’t for the conference being located in 18th district, but actually it is situated nearby to some wonderful local Parisian neighbourhoods. And it only takes 20 minutes to go to the center of town with the metro. I came as a stranger but I’m leaving with such a special connection with them forged through the turn of events of the past few days. 

8 thoughts on “Staying close to home after the Paris Attack.

  1. Though it’s a little late I hope you are all right now.I also have friends in Paris who just in the spot when those terrible things happen so I focus on it a lot.Fortunately they are safe.
    I started reading your blog since I decided to travel to Greenland one day three monthsago,but it’s still a long time before I can pay it.Your blog is pretty good.Yes I knew you on Airbnb just when I was searching about Greenland.O(∩_∩)O~I hope one day I culd see you in Nuuk and spend some great time with you.

    • Thanks Lucy. Greenland is definitely not the cheapest place to visit but there are some ways that you can make it more affordable. There are a few new hostel and home stay options and if you like hiking there’s plenty of options. If you have any questions feel free to ask, Lucy. =) Tanny

  2. Good to see that people in Paris are trying to lead normal lives. Terrorism shall never win..
    Lovely pictures! I had been to Paris last winter, but I did all the touristy stuff πŸ™‚ Many people recommended me to go to Paris during summer, but I really don’t regret visiting it during winter: the Christmas market and the light decorations were highlights for me.

    • Hi Pooja =) I think Paris in the winter is alright, less touristy and still not so cold! Well technically it’s not winter yet, right? Or is it? Anywhere down ‘south’ here in Europe feels like a summer holiday. Or at least fall =). I would LOVE to visit the Christmas markets one day. Oh it’s so gorgeous…. Did you hvae any favourites? =)

  3. It is devastating to hear what happened in Paris. Glad you are okay and hope the locals pull together through all of this. Love and compassion will drive out hate.

    I like your new haircut, and Emmanuel looks like he loves what he does. I’m sure he has many happy customers. And it sounded like you and he had a chat about hair and the style you wanted before the haircut started. I like those kinds of hairdressers, always wanting to make sure their customers are happy and wear their hair proud πŸ™‚

    • Hi Mabel, Thanks for writing! Yes, it was a crazy time to be in Paris. I felt mostly like an outsider looking in, it didn’t feel very real at first.

      I actually ended up starting my hair cut half an hour after the appointment was supposed to start because firstly, he wasn’t there, then he was still talking on the phone, then I went to get a croissant for a minute and then he wasn’t there again… a real artist. =)

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