Europe

Paris Attacks: The new normal

City of Paris motto "Fluctuat Nec Mergitur", Latin for "buffeted (by waves) but not sunk", in Paris, France, November 17, 2015 Image copyright REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Fluctuat nec mergitur - that is the Latin motto on the coat of arms of Paris meaning, 'Buffeted (by waves) but not sunk.'

These words have appeared more in Paris in recent days on signs, walls and the Eiffel Tower, marking people's resilience after the attacks of a week ago today.

People have been going back to work, and going out to bars and restaurants.

Here, Parisians describe the night of the attacks and how they have been trying to return to normality.


Marine lives a few kilometres away from the Bataclan music hall where many of the victims died.

"I heard police sirens near the Bataclan and I watched the story unfold on TV.

"I couldn't believe this was happening so close to me.

"I asked myself why the Bataclan and at the bars and restaurants.

"Then I realised that was what the terrorists wanted."

'We must not be afraid'

Marine works at Disneyland Paris and had to go in to work the day after the attacks.

"Although the park was closed my department was open.

"We took calls from people who were frightened and wanted to cancel their trips.

"Kids were sad because they were looking forward to their visit but now wouldn't be able to come.

"Some people asked about our security arrangements but at the time we didn't know.

"But there were a lot of nice people who rang to say they were sorry about what had happened, and some called to say that they will be coming as planned.

"A woman from England said we must not be afraid.

"We try to be joyful and stay in a good mood but it can be difficult."

Image copyright littlehells/Instagram

On the night of the attacks Samuel Pean was at a bar watching the France v Germany football match.

He did not know about what was going on outside until a friend in the United States messaged him to check he was OK.

"When we left the district we saw restaurants and bars were closed but people were inside in the dark.

"Police said we had to move because it was not safe. I didn't know if I could take the metro or not so I went to my parents' house.

Image copyright @SamuelPEAN

'A colleague was crying all day'

The following day Samuel went home but he felt the need to be with people.

"I couldn't stay at home. I went to see friends in another district and took the metro.

"But we all knew friends of friends who were affected or who had died.

"I had to go to work on Monday but it was good to be close to colleagues - we are like a family.

"A colleague was crying all day - we needed to be together.

"We are all still a bit afraid.

"I went out to a bar after work which I wouldn't normally do early in the week but it was more of a symbolic gesture.

"It's not normal but we have to pretend. The military and police are everywhere, there are less people on the subway, and more suspect package alerts.

"Paris is quiet and there is not a lot of cars. As it's less noisy you can hear sirens more."


Image copyright AP/Amr Nabil

After work, Solene Bertelli planned to meet her boyfriend outside the Bataclan near to where he lives.

She saw a crowd of people in front of the Bataclan having drinks, waiting to go inside to see a band play.

"After that we walked down the street and saw a man who was shouting, "Run, run."

"People were standing around not knowing what to do. Then suddenly everyone started running.

"No matter what direction we went to there was panic.

"We met some strangers who offered to take us into their home.

"This was around 22:00 and we stayed there until 04:00."

Solene and her boyfriend wanted to go to his home near the Bataclan.

"At the beginning the police didn't want us to go as it was carnage. But a policeman walked with us.

"There was blood and bullets everywhere, and dead people were being taken away."

'I didn't feel safe'

Solene works at a bakery and found it difficult to go back to work.

"I work a few days a week at the bakery. It was hard for me to return.

"I had to take the subway, and then I realised what had happened on Friday - I didn't feel safe.

"But as the days go on I am feeling better.

"There are more people on the streets - it's more alive."

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