Paris, France: Where Love is the Answer

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November 13, 2015. I remember leaving the grocery store on my weekly visit when I received a CBC News notification. Explosions were heard near the Stade de France in northern Paris. More notifications followed.

I remember leaving the grocery store on my weekly visit when I received a CBC News notification. Explosions were heard near the Stade de France in northern Paris. More notifications followed. Gunshots heard at the Bataclan theatre and surrounding area. Stade de France is on lockdown. Paris public transit system is in shutdown. ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

In the end, it was utterly heartbreaking.

130 people killed. Many of whom were young adults, not unlike any of us. They were enjoying a late fall Friday evening. Attending a soccer match, going to a concert, sitting at a café with friends.

Prior to my trip to Paris last week, I was understandably nervous. France remains in a state of emergency. The European Union reported that ISIL is planning large-scale attacks in Europe. But in the end, I knew I wanted to see this beautiful city.

The major attractions – Notre Dame de ParisThe LouvreArc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower – were, as expected, absolutely stunning. But the most moving moment of the journey came on our last day.

Place de la République (pictured above) became a memorial following the Charlie Hebdo Shootings in January 2015 and November 2015 Attacks. And despite the fact it has now been four months since those horrific events, the powerful messages still remained in the Place.

Pictures and posters bearing the name of the victims surrounded the central monument. Posters bearing the words of John Lennon’s Imagine sat side by side with paintings of a peace sign, using the Eiffel Tower. They were accompanied by other messages – the protection of abused women, aboriginal representation in government, LGBTQ+ rights to name a few.

But above all, the overwhelming feeling in that entire square was love and hope. And perhaps the following picture best describes that feeling:

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“Love is the answer.”

During our tour of the city, the tour guide concluded with a speech that brought tears to my eyes and chills to my spine. He told us:

I want to thank you for coming and visiting our city. Because you have shown those who committed this attacks that they will not win. That hate and fear will not win. You have shown then that in the City of Love, love will always win.

Tills nästa gång, (Until next time)

Ryan

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