Nous sommes Charlie…

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I have pondered throughout this past week about whether to write a post regarding the terrorist attacks in France: The attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine which left 12 dead on Wednesday, the killing of a female police officer the following day, and the attack on a Kosher supermarket in which four more died.

There are so many other political and news sites who could do it justice better than I, and there are other bloggers who have already written so eloquently about those events that for me to do so now seems like an exercise in writing futility. And so, instead I will say these few things about the Paris that I love…

Please still consider Paris as a top destination when making your short lists going forward on where you want to visit. While I am a smart traveler and do not take unnecessary risks, I have never felt unsafe in Paris. That is not to say there aren’t unsafe areas, just like there are unsafe areas in my current home city, but I have always felt safe in Paris, and more than that, at home. I realized how much I convey that when this past week I received several calls, texts and emails from family and friends that started with “I just read/heard about what was happening in Paris and it (Paris) made me think of you”.

The people in Paris are welcoming. I fell in love with France in 2011. I met amazing people on that trip. The French people. Not at all rude as I had once been told, but polite, helpful, and kind. My first afternoon in France, I was sitting in a café eating alone and a lovely elderly French woman struck up a conversation with me (thankfully, in English) and gave me the best advice I had ever received about visiting her city. She said (and she said it with such a joy and an insider’s half smile that made me want to really listen)”To know Paris, you have to walk her. Walk the city and take her in”.

I walked a lot that trip. I walked even more my second trip when I took my then 5 year old daughter there. One day, we walked from Notre Dame to the Musée Rodin then on to Les Invalides to see Napoleon’s tomb before finally heading back to the Metro to catch the train back to our accommodations outside the city. On another trip in 2013, with kids in tow, Darcy and I walked throughout Montmartre during the day and spent that evening walking the length of the Christmas marts set up along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.  I have probably walked the city of Paris a good half dozen times, it never gets old and I always meet amazing people while doing so.

Paris is another reminder that we are one world. We come together in times of both triumph and tragedy. Ironically enough I was writing and editing photos for a post I am working on about my recent visit to  the 9/11 Memorial Museum  when I first heard about the terrorist attacks in Paris. A sad reminder that terrorism does not discriminate.

I had never heard of the Charlie Hebdo magazine before last week and honestly, it would probably not be a favorite reading choice of mine as I’m not usually a big fan of any publications that satirizes religious figures including Jesus,  but I am a fan of free speech. I am a fan of not being fearful. I am a fan of to each his own within the boundaries of not hurting others.  I am for learning about new cultures. I am for respecting differences. I am for a world that I can travel without fear. I am for teaching my children to be citizens of the world. I will teach them to practice love and tolerance and that is how I will make a difference.
 Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” -Martin Luther King, Jr. 


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