My viewpoint today is a lot different from the one I had planned. Last Friday (the 13th) I flew to Paris for the weekend. It was partly social to attend a function, but partly a fact-finding trip in which I intended to speak to various establishments for comments regarding hospitality VAT in France, so as to write a piece on my return.
No one could have imagined the events that unfolded that night. My wife and I have enjoyed a wonderful sightseeing trip earlier in the day, and planned to return to the area around Notre Dame where we had seen many bars, brasseries and bistros. As we heading towards that area about 9 o’clock we stopped and listened to a jazz band playing in the street, after 10 to 15 minutes, we noticed just how busy the whole area was and decided to return to district 6, where we were staying, for a bite to eat. It was around that time that the terrible events unfolded.
The following day Paris was, of course, in “lockdown”. Everywhere was closed, however we did with friends decide to walk to the it simply felt appropriate to visit a monument which symbolises France’s struggles to defend freedom of speech and expression.
It was a journey I will never forget the mood was sombre but defiant. At that time you received a text message to say that the planned function later that evening was going ahead. I must confess I was rather surprised, but when I attended I saw why. One of the clearly shocked hosts said to me “France in its history has fought wars, enjoyed victory, and endured defeat, we had a revolution we have been occupied and we have been liberated, we will emerge stronger, we always do, we will not be cowered and we will not be bullied and we will not be terrorised”.
That was the mood from all those I came into contact with.
Unfortunately hospitality is in the frontline when it comes to terrorist attacks, an easy target, we have seen this year attacks in hotels, holiday makers on the beach, holidaymakers flying back home and now attracts in bars and restaurants. It was 25 years since I was last in Paris, I hope to be there again within the next 25 days. We too must send a message, however minor, or however insignificant we feel that is, and that messages, we too will continue about our daily business we like the French will not be cowered bullied or terrorised.