France during and after Nov. 13

AIX-EN-PROVENCE
Junior Lizzy Larson
It’s 12:37 a.m.
My phone has been vibrating over and over, and I finally decide to succumb to its pull and wake up enough to unlock it. Five text messages, and three Facebook messages.
“Are you ok?”
“I heard about the attacks in Paris, is everything ok with you?”
Suddenly wide awake, I open Facebook and look at articles from BBC, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, all giving similar information about the coordinated attacks that occurred in Paris on Friday evening (starting about 2 p.m. CST).
I continued to receive texts for the next couple of hours, some from concerned family members, some from people I hadn’t talked to in years — most random was probably my fifth grade teacher — all asking if I was ok. In turn, I also sent messages to two friends who are studying in Paris, and both are ok. I was unable to sleep. More information was coming in, my school in Aix-en-Provence, France (about three hours by train from Paris) was trying to get into contact with every student to make sure everyone was ok, and people were still being held hostage at the Bataclan.
My roommate received a FaceTime call at 2 a.m. from someone at home, and I told her about what had been going on. As the survivors finally got out of the Bataclan, I decided to rip myself away from The Guardian’s live feed, and stop responding to the messages I was still receiving, and worry about it in the morning. Aside from a 3 a.m. wake-up from my host mother who was on the phone with our school and wanted to make sure we were ok, I slept as well as one can expect after being inundated with those messages and images in the middle of the night.
The borders were closed — they have now been opened, allowing students who were out of the country to get back home by Monday — and a state of emergency was declared by President Hollande, who was at the Stade de France for the Germany v. France game when the bombs went off outside. A state of emergency in France, in summary, means that a curfew can be enforced, secure zones can be created where the stay of persons is regulated and public places can be closed. The state of emergency is currently still in effect, but cannot be in effect for more than 15 days without the passing of a law.
Three days of mourning have been declared for France as a country, and although many things seemed the same as I went to a café and sat at a park yesterday, the attacks were all anyone seemed to be talking about. The flags were at half mast, and there will be a moment of silence on Monday for the whole country. My friends and I talked about our fear, because there is no way to predict the next attack that could occur, which also made me realize my own privilege, as so many people live in a much more intense and real fear every single day. As my host mom, roommate and I talked last night at dinner, and our host mom mentioned that anyone going into a store today had to have their bag checked before they were allowed in. Instead of soccer or rugby games on the TVs in cafés, it’s all news channels reporting about the attacks.
Beyond the French flag Facebook profile photos and status updates, the French people are coming together, just as any country does after a national tragedy. Saturday night as I walked around with some friends, we stopped at the city hall of Aix, where there was a French flag laid on the ground with candles and flowers on it, a French flag drawn with chalk on the ground with the Eiffel tower peace symbol in the middle, and numerous messages written and drawn on the ground in front of the building, and even on the building itself. Chalk and candles were set out so anyone could write or light a candle if they wished. Three messages that I saw at that vigil will stay with me: “Je suis Musulman et je prie pour Paris” (I am Muslim and I pray for Paris), and “On n’a pas peur de terroristes” (We’re not afraid of terrorists), and finally “Tous unis” (All one).

RENNES

Senior Amy Early
It’s Saturday morning, and the streets of Rennes, France are quiet and deserted, unusually so. On a typical Saturday morning, men and women swarm the streets loaded with bags and shopping lists, headed toward the enormous open-air market, but today is far from typical.
Today we wake to a world still in shock over the horrific terrorist attacks of last night: Friday, Nov. 13. Today we grieve with the citizens of Paris. Today we anxiously call our loved ones in Paris, waiting to hear the sound of their voices on the other end, reassuring us that they are ok.
It seems as if everyone has friends or family in Paris. A week ago my host sister moved into a new apartment two blocks away from the Bataclan, the concert hall where innocent civilians were held hostage Friday night. Our thoughts flew to her last night as we changed the channel from the soccer game to the news, watching with horror the events of the attack unfold before our eyes.
Seventeen morts, 20 morts, 22 morts … The death count at the bottom of the screen climbed steadily higher. Thankfully, she had returned home earlier that evening and was shaken but nonetheless safe in her apartment.
This morning the country woke up in a state of emergency. French soldiers in full combat attire with guns strapped to their chests can be seen patrolling the train station and the streets of my city.
At the same time, the discourse that rings out across the nation is: “Il faut continuer à vivre” — We must continue to live. Fear must not be allowed to control us because that is what the terrorists aim to achieve. We carry on with life, but we mourn for those who lost their lives in Paris; the world is darker without them. We gather in the city square and light candles in their honor. We pray for Paris. We pray for peace.
The Record also confirmed that senior Anna Ploegman, who is studying in France, is also well.

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