This diverse district is a symbol of the French capital's successby Jonathan Derbyshire / November 14, 2015 / Leave a comment
Read more: the latest on the Paris attacks
My wife and her sister recently sold a tiny flat on the third floor of an undistinguished building in Paris’s 11th arrondissement. It had belonged to their father and before that to a friend of mine. We’d been graduate students in Paris in the Nineties and my friend had ended up staying, falling in love with a French woman with whom he had a child. When they sold up to my father in law, they stayed in the east of the city, in the neighbouring 20th arrondissement. This was their—and my—”quartier“. And it’s where many of the victims of the attacks in Paris last night were slaughtered.
At least 80 dead (according to the latest reports) at the Bataclan concert hall on the Boulevard Voltaire, where we saw Massive Attack (I think—though the memories are murky) some time in the Nineties and where, 15 years later, I sat on a sunny terrance with my wife and children after a day spent wandering up and down the Canal St Martin. At least 19 dead outside a café on the corner of rue de Charonne and rue Faidherbe. There used to be a place on rue Faidherbe where students could get cheap meals—we’d eat couscous and merguez there—as well as a branch of the municipal library particularly well-stocked with philosophy books (my book-buying budget was no match for those of the French students in the seminars at the Ecole Normale and Ecole des Hautes Etudes, so I relied on the city’s libraries). At least five dead on the terrace of a restaurant close to the Place de la République, where we once saw James Brown perform during the annual Fête de la Musique
I’ve been watching French television pretty much non-stop since the news of the horror in the 11th broke last night. This morning, one of the talking heads was saying that these weren’t “symbolic” targets like the offices of Charlie Hebdo or the…