Continuing Normal, Daily Life Has Become A Political Act In Paris

In the week since the devastating attacks in Paris, Parisians have been making a point to continue going about their days normally.

Paris is a city of public life, with thriving cafe and bar cultures. It’s not a city for hiding in fear.

The night after the attacks, BuzzFeed documented people who went out, enjoying their Saturday night in the face of the terror that attackers wished to instill on the city.

The New York Times reported that Parisians are back at their cafes, calling this simple act of normalcy one of “defiance.”

#TousAuBistrot trended on Twitter, encouraging citizens to return to cafes, bars and restaurants.

Thursday marked the annual Beaujolais Nouveau Day, when the first Beaujolais wine of the season is served, and Parisians went out to try it.

Living normally has become a political act in the city as residents refuse to bow to fear.

Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine that was attacked this past January, published a special edition, the cover of which conveyed the idea of brazenly living as defiance:

Three years ago I spent a summer in a school program in Paris, between the 5th and 6th arrondissements in the Left Bank.

Down the street from my dorm was Wos, an international bar that, curiously, plays every Green Bay Packers game.

New friends from the program and I initially started going to watch that summer’s Euro soccer tournament, but soon it became my home away from home.

That’s not because I was a raging alcoholic (hi, Mom), but because it was a place for me to become a small part of Parisian life.

I cherish the friendships I made with the bartenders and fellow regulars there, some of whom grew up in France and others who, like me, were following the city’s expat tradition.

Wos was across the river from the attacks and stayed open on Friday night. The bar held normal hours over the past week, staying open until 5 am on weekends. It posted last Saturday that it would be staying open:

In spite of the tragic events that happened last night in Paris, Wos bar will be open tonight as usual from 16h00 to 5h00. We'll be here to change your mind and say no to fear. Posted by Wos Bar on Saturday, November 14, 2015

Pierre Louvrier, Wos’s owner, who is French, told me over Skype that the bartenders and bouncers unanimously wanted to stay open on Friday. Customers remained inside and live news of the ongoing attacks was played on the televisions.

Last Saturday, they again agreed to open regularly:

I’m happy and proud that no one, absolutely none of us, even considered [staying closed] as a possibility. Saturday night we wanted to be open -- not to make any money because we knew many people weren’t going to be out on the streets, but just to say we’re not going to change our activity.

The staff knew people who were at Bataclan, the concert hall that was attacked, including two people who were shot. To close the bar, Pierre said, would be disrespectful to them.

The one thing that terrorists want us to do is change our lives because they’re trying to scare us.

But, Pierre said, people acting normally is not enough to honor the victims of the attacks:

Honoring them is more what our forces are going to do and what our politics are going to do, and that’s where we should take a stand to honor them.

Pierre has been making a point of going about his days as he normally would.

He’s noticed that everyone he interacts with is trying to do the same -- he had meetings that went on as planned and his friends have not changed their behavior.

Wos had a crowd, including foreigners, for the Packers game on Sunday.

Although, of course, people have been affected by the attack, they are working to not let it alter their behavior.

People are not living in fear here. We’re living in awareness. We are not living in fear. Life has not stopped in France.

While larger steps are being taken by the government and defense, this is the one stand every Parisian can take.

Pierre said:

I really think the best thing we can do is just keep on living life as usual. Life goes on. It might sound silly, but keep on listening to music, keep on dancing, keep on drinking wine and eating.