Over much of the year past, I have been laser focused on France, creating and rolling out a wine, food and art tour of Provence that 24 of Carpe Vino’s most enthusiastic fans accompanied me on in early October. It was a grand adventure that sated virtually every sense and craving. Our group bonded through the shared experience of travel, and we were all looking forward to gathering again one last time in the Carpe Vino Wine Mine this Wednesday for the “Pilgrimage to Provence” prix-fixe event that was inspired by our trip.
Then Friday evening, we were stunned along with the rest of world with the first news reports about the slaughter in Paris wreaked by ISIS terrorists, the second horrific, murderous and cowardly attack in less than in a year in The City of Lights. Nearly all of us had spent time in Paris before or after the Provence tour, or had at least flown into Charles De Gaulle Airport.
My beloved, Ellen, and I booked three days in Le Marais, the fashion district of Paris. Our plan was to just chill, and walk the neighborhoods; we simply wanted to relax and enjoy une noistte in street-side cafés, find restaurants randomly and, of course, see Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower
Instead, after encountering an organized street demonstration, I felt vulnerable and very, very unsafe. I’ve never witnessed a more massive display of force in my life, with literally hundreds of Paris police, state police and soldiers turned out in full combat gear, replete with body armor and automatic weapons. The streets were jammed with riot vehicles and dozens of buses to transport any people arrested.
All of this for what was a fairly mundane demonstration of healthcare workers.
Now, barely a month later, we are all sickened by the violence in Paris and by the seemingly random timing. My fellow Provence travelers are particularly mournful of the loss of life. The unease I felt in Paris is now elevated to an underlying fear for what could happen anywhere at any time.
Rather than be paralyzed by foreboding, however, my plan is to continue living my life and to keep traveling. . .next year I’m leading a tour to Tuscany. And this week, we will celebrate the culture of France–as planned and in solidarity with our friends across the pond. Vive la France!