How My Lovely Trip To France Ended In Ugly Terror

As most of you know, we have been planning a trip to France for the past 18 months. There have been cheerful emails exchanged between the six couples going, using our newly acquired French phrases in anticipation of being in this lovely country together where we would meet up in Paris for the trip of a lifetime. Two of us had daughters give birth just days and weeks before we left and everything had been purchased and packed as the day finally arrived for us to leave. 

In the days to come I will, of course, share all of the wonderful things we did while traveling around the French countryside, however, I feel I must begin my posts at the end of our trip when we were stricken with fear as Paris suffered terror attacks just a few miles from where we were staying. 

We ended our Viking Cruise Friday in the same place we started; Paris. Before setting sail, we had spent two days walking around the city, sightseeing, window shopping and eating in French cafes. It was wonderful and I would simply close my eyes, breathe in deeply and think of how fortunate I was to get to be experiencing this city I had longed to visit for as long as I could remember. 

As we left the boat, we caught a cab and headed to our hotel across town and immediately set out to explore the city some more. The weather had turned cool and crisp as we bundled up to shop the Champs Elysee and even visited the Christmas Market that had been set up while we floated on the Seine.  I was soaking up every minute of the day and must admit that it was truly magical...
                                   
                                   
                                   
                                   
                                   

We had promised to meet up with the other members of our group later in the evening for one last dinner together. We had a taxi drive us to Montmartre where we could capture the view of the city from the highest point in Paris. We were to meet everyone at the bottom of the steps and then planned to head out for dinner.
                                   
    
    
We set out for dinner but there was a bit of chaos as to where we would eat and we ended up having to wait on several people who were running late and as fate would have it, our party of four decided, after sitting down in a cafe that we would not stay.  Instead we grabbed a cab and headed back across the river...
                                 

I remember snapping this photo from the window of our cab and laughingly sending it to my kids saying, "How's this for a traffic jam?"  

The four of us found a quaint restaurant close to our hotel and feasted on escargot, French wine, soufflé and creme broulee. As we heard the church bells ring outside, we decided to take in a French mass the next evening. It would be a wonderful way to end our trip. 

We leisurely walked back to our rooms, taking in the picturesque cobblestone streets and as we retired for the evening, Lori and I talked about our plans of meeting the other women the next morning for our guided shopping tour of the Paris flea markets. 

Robby and I went to bed, and as usual, turned our cell phones on silent for the night. Our kids back home had seemed to forget that we were on a 7 hour time difference and we didn't want to be awakened at all hours of the night. Suddenly we heard a knock on our door that startled me. Who could possibly be knocking on our door in the middle of the night?  Robby got up and it was Lori's husband, Lynn. He said, "You need to call your kids. They've been trying to get in touch with you. There's been a bombing in Paris."

All I could keep saying over and over was, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh..."  Upon looking at our phones, we had numerous text messages and immediately began messaging our family to let them know we were ok. We also turned on the television and found an English news channel where we learned about the awful news of terror unfolding. We watched the live account of the many people being held hostage in the concert hall and fear struck our hearts. We heard about the bombing at the soccer game, the shootings in the restaurants. The area we had been only hours before. 

Of course, we attempted to change our flight to come home the next morning, however, a state of emergency had been declared, the borders of the country closed and no flights were going out. We would have to wait until Sunday to leave.  As I tried to close my eyes and go to sleep, all I could think of was, "How do I know there will not be shootings or explosions where I am?"  I didn't know. I prayed. 

Needless to say, we cancelled our flea market trip the next morning as most of Paris shut down. I was afraid to leave my hotel room but then again I thought, was I really even safe there?  We decided to wander just down the street to get breakfast and coffee. The city was quiet but the French people were beginning to stir...
                      

We stayed in a small area Saturday close to our hotel. As the day wore on, more people began to make their way to our area since the other area of the city, where the events of the previous evening, had been closed off.  As we numbly walked through the streets that yesterday had been so enchanting, we sought to find that same feeling. We needed to find it. And we did. In the beautifully resilient Parisians who slowly began the attempt to resume some sense of normality...
                       

   We found the beauty in theses lovely flower shops that opened on such a mournful day, as if to say, "You cannot destroy who we are..."
                                  
                                  
                     
                                   

We made it out of Paris Sunday.  Very jet lagged and still a bit in shock. Extremely happy to be back in the United States. However, I am drawn to the news channels every single day since leaving. I cannot forget what we experienced and left behind. Nor should I. Ever. 

     

3 comments

  1. So glad we were together. It was wonderful and then maddeing. Such a beautiful city to have to endure such terror.

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  2. I was supposed to go next Tuesday for 12 wonderful days with my husband. Oh well, maybe in my next life...

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