PHOTOS From Paris: 'We Heard Shots, So The Cafe Owner Hid Us In The Cellar'

Posted: Nov 17, 2015 12:30 PM
PHOTOS From Paris: 'We Heard Shots, So The Cafe Owner Hid Us In The Cellar'

PARIS, France - Slowly but surely as Paris has returned to normality some of the people affected by Friday's terrorist attack have returned to Boulevard Voltaire, to see just how lucky they had been. Many lit candles and others followed the French tradition of chalking messages on the pavement as a act of defiance. 

One British tourist told me the cafe she was in was so close to the gun fire that it could be clearly heard. Perhaps because of the Charlie Hebdo massacre the cafe owner knew what was going on and herded his customers into the cellar in time. They stayed there until armed police and the army secured the area.

Despite the massive security effort in Paris, the American Experience shop remained closed. It is located on the other side of the street from the Bataclan Theatre and there can be little doubt this is why its staff and customer left the scene alive. Most Americans followed the shops lead and stayed away from the area around Republic Square, those who did venture in discretely prayed for the dead.

Bullet holes can still be seen in the windows of bars and restaurants, whilst forensic teams still come and go from the Bataclan Theatre, were 89 people lost their lives. At a local launderette a mourner placed a rose through a bullet hole in the window, next to a glass door that was now shattered on the floor.

But the mood was not one of defeat but rather of calm resolve. Unlike 9/11 this was not the first time Paris had seen such an attack and the shock was tempered with a realization that France was now at war, and the pride that comes from knowing the enemy will be defeated.

President Hollande's address to the joint session of Congress and the Senate was broadcast live to hushed diners. Unlike Obama the President of France is in the middle of a major offensive against the Islamic State, with huge airstrikes over night. The nation appears united behind him, a simple sign on Voltaire read: "Paris is strong, Paris is never gives up. RIP Angels."

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(All photos by Andre Walker)