The Friday the 13th terrorist attacks in Paris happened in Ute Biefang’s neighbourhood.
The former Melburnian, an Australian who’s lived in Paris since 2008, walked past one of the sites earlier the same day.
For Ute, an expert on the local food scene who offers food-related walking tours and private guide services, and the many Parisians who rely on tourism for their income, the attacks are still hurting the city in other ways. Travellers are staying away.
“I have had four cancellations so far and only one new booking after the attacks. Everyone who relies on tourists is affected”, she writes.
Like many other Parisians, she’s hoping life will get back to normal.
“La vie continue”, she writes in an email. “It’s been a sad couple of weeks but now life must go on.”
She says Parisians are trying to show their resilience: “We are now starting initiatives to show the world that life here continues as normal.
“The first one was the Tuesday after the attacks and I went out to support the ‘Tous au bistrot’ – ‘Everyone to the bistrot!’ initiative.
“It is important to show the world we are not afraid and will not change our habits and continue to enjoy what we do best, walking the streets, being out on the terraces, having a glass of wine, spending time with friends.
“Parisians were out in force. For a Tuesday night I think there were far more people out than normal. Very good to see.
“Since then it has been sitting out on the terraces and showing that we are not afraid. Oui, it is a tad cold, but we are alive.
“The only thing missing from all of this are the tourists. In a way it is lovely sitting at (local bistrot) Le Progrès and only hearing French voices, on the other hand businesses are suffering as we do rely so much on the visitors. Restaurants that are normally impossible to get into – no worries.
“And a lot of the sensationalist reporting of the international media, the DFAT travel advisory and US World Wide Travel Alert did not help.
“At least now after two weeks the satellite vans at Place de la République have become less and the media will move on to the next big story. And let’s hope it won’t be us for a while.
“We are all hoping that very soon the international visitor will return to experience all the magic Paris has to offer.”
Ute has one request – that international tourists don’t rule Paris off their destination list.
“Please help us fill those empty seats in our beloved Parisian sidewalk cafés,” she says.
“Paris, the city of love and light, especially this time of year where the streets sparkle in the dark and everything looks so beautiful, welcomes you with open arms.”
Contact Ute Biefang through http://www.uteinparis.com.