“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.” – David Levithan
The day started off like any other. Having advised you all to book ahead for the Eiffel Tower, I’m deeply ashamed to admit we didn’t follow my own advice for the Louvre. We arrived early, before it even opened, and yet there was already a half an hour queue to get inside. I can’t imagine the length of wait at peak times, thanks to the crackdown on security after the 2015 terror attacks .
And once inside, the wait isn’t over. If you’re unfortunate enough to need to purchase a ticket, you face another queue at the cash desks, as well as the steep prices of 15 €. Under 18s, EU students, and other people that qualify for free admission, can enter without a ticket as long as they have valid ID.
Despite the early hours, popular exhibits such as the Mona Lisa were already crowded. It’s difficult to capture the quality of paintings with photographs so the souvenir shops sell postcards of most major paintings to take home with you.
After exploring just a fraction of the museum, we left and began our journey to la Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. Navigating the metro is easy, and once you get off, you’ll find youself swept into a crowd leading you up the hill. Once again, it’s your choice whether to climb the multiple flights of stairs or use the ski lift, the Funiculaire de Montmartre. The ride costs a single metro ticket, 1,90 €.
Sacré-Coeur is a stunning monument, consecrated in 1919. It stands 130m above the city of Paris, offering a panoramic view from the top of the dome. Inside, the ceiling is decorated with the largest mosaic in France, in a lovely array of pattterns and colours. This attraction is a hub of bustling crowds, and you’ll find many souvenir shops lining the streets leading up to it. If you haven’t had the chance to pick up some memoirs for your trip to Paris, this is the place to do so.
The evening was uneventful for us. We intended to dine at a restaurant on the The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, but at the last minute, cancelled the reservation and went round the corner of our hotel for dinner. We were lucky.
That night, the night of 20th April 2017, a gunman opened fire on a police car stopped at the red light on that very road. Just days before France’s presidential election, with tension already rising as the now defeated far-right leader Le Pen called for a crackdown on foreign extremists and closed borders, this attack was one of many that have occurred in France over the past few years.
After the Charlie Hebdo magazine attack in January 2015 which killed 12 people, along with the November 2015 Paris attacks that left 130 dead, and the Bastille Day truck crash in July 2016 in Nice killed over 80 and lead to many more injured, people all around the world have stood with Paris. I’ve spoken before about the hypocrisy comparing the reactions in Paris to attacks in other countries, but at the end of the day, we must all remain united in the face of terrorist threats.
Whether attacks occur on our own front lawn, near where we’re staying, like they did that night in Paris, or across the other side of the world, we are all in this together. Everyone must join the fight against terrorism for the fight to be successful.
“We need new partnerships in fighting terrorism and building peace.” – Anna Lindh