Paris One Year After the Attacks

By Jonathan Spira on 13 November 2016
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November 13 marks one year since the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, which left 130 dead.

A few weeks ago I stood outside the Bataclan, the historic Paris concert hall in the Haut-Marais neighborhood where 90 people had been killed by Islamic State militants wearing suicide vests who opened fire during an Eagles of Death Metal concert on November 13, 2015.

On the streets, nothing seemed amiss. Children were playing in a park across the way, a nearby café where I sat people watching was bustling. Shops and markets were busy and life looked normal. Yet I felt as if I were walking through the valley of the shadow of death, the grim reminder of the Bataclan, closed for a year-long renovation after the grim event, looming behind me.

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While all of France changed in a few short hours after the tragic events, much has remained the same. The terrorists directed their coordinated attacks that evening on everyday venues, a football stadium during a match, a bar, and a concert hall. While the attacks were not the first on French soil, they did kill more people in more places in a single day than any since the Second World War.

Tourism immediately suffered; hotel occupancy plummeted to the point where France’s minister of tourism declared a tourism emergency. Although occupancy has somewhat recovered to the point where it will likely be down 11-12% for the year, businesses around the points of attack were dramatically impacted.

I spent an afternoon with Si Hocine, director of Paris’ Grand Hôtel Français and a member of the association Paris East Village, a group borne out of the November attacks to promote the area, walking around Marais and discussing the attacks and their effect on visitors and safety.

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