Paris bar La Bonne Bière, where five people were killed by jihadist gunmen in the November 13 attacks, reopens to the public on Friday in an emotional step in the city's struggle to regain normality.
People were sipping their drinks on an unusually mild November evening in the French capital’s trendy east when the terraces of La Bonne Bière and the Casa Nostra restaurant opposite were sprayed with bullets.
Three weeks after France’s worst terrorist attacks since World War II, hearts drawn in red crayon decorate the street outside the Casa Nostra and remnants of the sand used to absorb the victims' blood can still be seen.
Rose stems poke through bullet holes left in the restaurant's windows – the image becoming one of the ubiquitous symbols of post-attack mourning.
CCTV footage from the restaurant showed the horror of the assault, with one woman's life apparently saved when the attacker's gun either jammed, or he had second thoughts.
A few steps away from the Casa Nostra, the façade of La Bonne Bière has been hastily repaired and tarpaulin covers the ground as the owners prepare to return to business as usual – or almost.
With memories of the night of terror still raw, local residents have mixed feelings.
"It's a good thing that it's opening up again, but there will still be an awful lot of memories here," said Valentine, 29, who has been passing by La Bonne Bière every morning and evening since the attacks, sometimes lighting a candle in memory of the victims.
"There's a wound here that can't be healed," said Aliette, whose friend lost a son at another of the bars targeted, La Belle Equipe. Nineteen people died there. Unlike La Bonne Bière, it remains firmly shuttered.
‘We’ll carry on having fun’
But life goes on. City trash collectors have begun to clear away flowers from outside the Carillon bars and the Petit Cambodge restaurant, where 15 people lost their lives.
"We cleared out six trucks' worth of wilted flowers and several kilogrammes of candles," said Sebastien, a street cleaner who took part in the operation.
"We didn't really want to get rid of things, but it feels a bit like a cemetery with all the flowers," he said.
Reopening Bataclan a 'long and painful journey'
The owners of the Carillon and the Petit Cambodge say they also plan to reopen, but at a later date.
For now, the Bataclan concert hall, where 90 people were killed in the deadliest of the series of shootings and suicide bombings, remains the focus of the mourning.
Hundreds of people flock there every day – it is just a short walk from La Bonne Bière – and fresh flowers line the pavements outside.
Nestled among the flowers are photographs of the victims, heartbreaking in their fresh-faced youth.
"We'll carry on having fun. That's the only answer," reads one of the messages pinned to a floral tribute.
The owners of the concert hall said this week they are determined to re-open the venue, although they are unlikely to be able to do so until the end of next year.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2015-12-04