The Finer Things visits Paris to pay respects

Hearts go out to Paris

Sue Wallace visited Paris last weekend and experienced first hand the strength and resilience of her people. Here is her story .

Red paper hearts float around one end of La Place de la Republique that’s become a memorial to those who were killed in the recent Paris terrorist bombings.
How do they get there – children and adults collect a handful of the hearts and throw them onto a blower that sends them high into the air where they catch a breeze and flutter to their destiny.
They land in trees, on the ground and around the square, while some dance in the wind and end up down the street towards the Bataclan Theatre, where hundreds went to listen to Eagles of Death Metal band and 89 never came home.
Those simple red hearts are a symbol that love is strong and around us all, according to Marie Pelligrin who is a volunteer counsellor.
It’s something positive for children to do in a place that sees many break down and weep as the enormity of the massacre sets in.
Impromptu patriotic songs break out and although the air is heavy with grief and despair the feelings of unity is powerful and palpable.
There is an air of defiance in Paris with residents returning to what they have always loved – dining, taking a stroll, shopping, watching sport and listening to music – all things that were the scenes of such tragedy.
Today the square is full of people – couples, families and singles who have come to pay their respects, lay flowers and drawings, leave messages of love and hope and light candles as a tribute to those who lost their lives.
Posies made with love, intricate bouquets and single flowers are piled high while candles flicker in the wind.
But it’s the messages that are the most heart wrenching – you will not die in vain, says one hand written note, while another France is united sums up that feelings of unity that are out in full force.
A simple red painted sign Freres – brothers -is emblazoned on another make shift memorial on a corner street where several people were gunned down.
A Parisian tells me life is returning to normal but people are cautious.
“Many are avoiding supermarkets and places they feel may be targeted – we have all become a little bit more careful but life is for living,” he says.
We walk with others to the Bataclan Theatre where across the road is a shrine for so many who were killed. Flowers, messages, photographs and the French flag adorn the area, a gathering point where some quietly weep, link arms and hold hands.
Bruised, battered and heart broken – definitely – but like those red hearts that flutter in the wind carrying messages of love and hope – Paris is united, brave and beautiful.