My friend Ash and I enjoyed our inaugural visit to the city of lights on Monday and marveled at the Pont des Arts and the Arc de Triomphe, the old world grandeur of Tuileries. I craned my head skywards to gaze at the tower cloaked in mist, practiced my French with waiters and walkers and ate a buttery pain au chocolat outside Notre Dame. The breeze was brisk, the air icy, but I was struck by the joie de vivre of the city and its famously brusque denizens, too. In a Châtelet metro tunnel, a fiddle filled the air with music and my heart – no matter how cliché – felt thick with joy on an otherwise bleak January day.
But a whimsical post with our touristy snaps no longer seems appropriate, given the events in Paris that occurred on Wednesday. We were just there, I keep thinking, recognising that the city I enjoyed for the first time this week will be changed indelibly, if not visibly, by the brutality of this week. It is a beautiful city, and one whose citizens have shown themselves equally beautiful and full of integrity in the aftermath of a tragic attack. The images of Parisians, young and old, of every race, religion and arondissement, holding their pens in the air – in sorrow and in protest – brought tears to my eyes.
Je suis Charlie.