I can’t stop thinking about the recent terrorist attack in Brussels and the earlier two in Paris (January 2015 and November 2015). My heart goes out to those who are affected by all of these horrible murders. They’ve shaken me up and made me think about whether I want to continue travelling to France. Am I scared to travel to France? This question is likely a shock to my friends and those who follow my blog because I am, quite frankly, in love with France.
My Last Two Trips
My last trip was my 25th time, and I went less than 2 months after the horrendous attacks which occurred in various locations in Paris, including the Bataclan theatre where 89 people were killed.
Before I travelled to Paris soon after each attack, I was asked a number of times, “Aren’t you scared to go to Paris?” My answer was an unequivocal, “No”. I was prepared to be more cautious and more aware of my surroundings, but nothing was going to stop me from going.
When I was in Paris last May, 4 months after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, the only sign that Paris was different was the memorial at Place de la République, where 2 million people gathered to pay their respects to those who had lost their lives and to have a rally of national unity. Many signs, candles and photos remained when I visited in May.
When I went back this past January, an even larger memorial surrounded the bronze statue of Marianne at Place de la République and what was most evident was the police presence at all transportation stations and security at the entrances to museums and even stores. I didn’t find that there were longer line ups to get in; however, it was January, a predominantly slow season in Paris. I also didn’t mind having to go through metal detectors or having my purse searched. If it made the building safer, fine with me.
Am I Scared To Travel To France?
Now with another attack, this time in Brussels, am I scared to travel to France and has my mind changed about going back to Paris or anywhere in France? It has certainly been on my mind much more.
The answer is: NO.
My Next Trip To France
Terrorism is out of my control, but there are a few things I can do to keep myself safer. The following is what I am going to do the next time I travel to France. They might help those who are debating whether to go to Paris, other areas of France, or Europe.
- I will visit Paris but will not stay a long time or at all. In my case I have been there so many times, missing Paris on my next trip will not be a big deal. I can always go back another time, perhaps when things settle down. Am I a bit leery about being in Paris? I will be honest: Yes. If it were my first time however, I would not hesitate to stay in Paris, but I might not stay a long time.
- I will not be attending rallies or protests. A few years ago, I was in Paris when strikes were constantly going on. People were mad at President Sarkozy for suggesting changes to the retirement laws. I just don’t want to be in big crowds that could erupt into something more volatile.
- For my next trip, I am going to focus on visiting smaller towns, which I actually prefer. The countryside is beautiful and peaceful and I believe the smaller towns are less of a target for terrorists, at least for now. Call me naive, but that’s my opinion.
- When arriving at an airport or train station, I will be extra cautious and be hyper aware of my surroundings. I will also try not to loiter around IN the stations, but rather get through customs and security as quickly as possible.
- I will register my trip with the Canadian government (most countries have this service so that they notify you in case of an emergency abroad or at home). In Canada the “Registration of Canadians Abroad” website is: http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration
I will not stop travelling because of fear.
I am not scared to travel to France.
[In a future post I will share my Bucket List For France—-those small towns that I want to visit]