Radio Website Header-Waves 6 3.0.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Parisians Adjust To New Reality Following Terror Attacks

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The French interior minister said this week that authorities had thwarted another terrorist attack. France has been under a state of emergency since gunmen killed 130 people in coordinated attacks across Paris in November. The prime minister says the heightened state of alert will be maintained into the foreseeable future. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports on how Parisians are adjusting to this new reality.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: The decorated windows at Galleries Lafayette and Printemps, Paris's big department stores, are always a huge draw at Christmastime. The crowd this year is a little thinner, but people still come. Children stand on specially built platforms to get a closer look into the magical world behind the glass. Christophe Billot brought his 7-year-old.

CHRISTOPHE BILLOT: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: "We're learning to live with a new level of insecurity," he says. "I'm not exactly scared, but I do things differently now." Billot says he doesn't, for example, sit out as often at outdoor cafes with his children. The tourism industry has been hit hard. Hotel revenues in Paris are down 30 to 40 percent from last year. Japan Airlines has suspended flights between Paris and one of Tokyo's main airports.

JENNIFER BURDON: I'm terribly, terribly sad and shocked but not scared. Unfortunately, it's going to be like this in the whole world now, isn't it?

BEARDSLEY: Jennifer Burdon has been a tour guide in Paris for 39 years. She says the tourism industry changed after 9/11, but this is about the worst she's seen things.

BURDON: Lots of individuals canceled and the school groups, of course. I was due to do a school group who were going around Normandy, and then I was going to do them in Paris - and completely cancelled. It was an American school group, and it was just a week after the attacks.

BEARDSLEY: But Burdon says things are beginning to pick up. The Asians are coming back. But the latest attacks have meant long lines for bag checks everywhere from the Louvre to Notre Dame.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL RINGING)

BEARDSLEY: The French interior minister said there would be heightened security around churches during the holidays. The new reality also means armed soldiers on the streets. There are now 10,000 soldiers patrolling across the country. That's more than are serving overseas. Nearly 7,000 of them are in the Paris region.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Character, speaking French).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Character, speaking French).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Character, speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: Moliere's "The Miser" plays to a half-empty theatre. The holiday season usually accounts for a quarter of all revenues in the entertainment industry, but ticket sales for plays, circuses and concerts plummeted the week after the attacks and are still 40 percent down from last year. Theaters launched a media campaign calling audiences back.

GILLES PETIT: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: Theatre director Gilles Petit calls this a fight for our culture, diversity and way of life. We're urging spectators to come back to the theater, he says. The theater is a place of resistance and liberty.

(APPLAUSE)

BEARDSLEY: Anne Sirie and her granddaughter Maya Lini enjoyed the Moliere play.

ANNE SIRIE: No, we are not afraid. We...

MAYA: Not now, but the last time I'm going to the theater, and I'm a little worried.

SIRIE: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: Granddaughter Maya says she saw cats just days after the attacks. Her grandmother says Parisians will not be intimidated and are determined to go out and live their lives. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.