Lynn and I had planned a trip to Paris with a cruise down the Seine to the Normandy Beaches and back to Paris for over a year. There would be a group of twelve of us on the cruise. We left November 4th and our cruise ended back in Paris on Friday, November 13th. Some of the travelers decided to stay and to roam around the city of Paris for a few extra days.
I will talk about the fun and wonderful cruise we took in later posts, but first a timeline of our last nights in Paris.
7 hours before first terrorist act
Lynn, Barbara, Robbie and I headed to the Christmas Market that had just opened that day on the Champs Elysees. We all thought how much our Grands would enjoy this area and how wonderful it would look at night.
I think Lynn was done with the Christmas market at this point. You think?
But, I could have taken one of the largest Nutella containers I had ever seen home with me. No luggage space, so sad.
We continued with shopping, but did not get far enough down the street to be up close with the Arc du Triomphe. We thought, of course, we could do that the next day. You can barely see the Arc at the end of the boulevard in the below picture. It would have been a really long walk.
Three hours before the terrorist attacks
Instead, we dropped our shopping bags back in our hotel rooms and took a taxi to the Montmartre area to meet back up with the rest of the cruise group and we had planned to eat at cafe nearby. After meeting up with everyone else, our group of four decided to head back to our hotel on the other side of the Seine for dinner. The group we left behind ate and made it back to their hotels.
Barbara and Robbie in the below picture are just blocks away from where later the restaurant attacks would occur. Little did we know that then.
Two hours before the first attacks.
We wandered around our hotel area and headed to dinner.
This is exactly how I had imagined restaurants in Paris. Le Petite Zinc did not disappoint. During dinner we heard the neighboring church bells ringing at 7:00 as daily evening mass was getting ready to start. So charming, we even planned to attend Saturday night mass there.
Less than one hour before terror.
We were in our hotel room, did not turn on the television, when I received a text from my son-in-law asking if we were OK? I told Lynn, "turn on the TV, something has gone wrong." It was then we realized what was happening across the Seine from us.
After - 7 attacks killing 129
With the time change it was only early afternoon back in the states. My first messages home were that we were safe and in an area far away from the attacks.
Our trip, though supposed to last three more days was really over at this point. Our concern was to get home and hug family as fast as we could. The next day flights were cancelled, borders closed and we walked around our area and stayed close to our hotel. The French are amazing. Pretty much business as usual, as if to say "you can't keep us down." I only saw tears from our lovely hotel manager. We asked her if everyone was OK with her family and friends. She started to cry and say everyone was alright, but that area was were her two teenage daughters usually hung out on weekends. They were NOT there the night before. She was so relieved.
My friend Barbara has a post also on our last days in Paris. Here
Always pray to have eyes to see the best in people,
a heart that forgives the worst,
a mind that forgets the bad,
and a soul that never loses faith in God.