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Staying in Paris near attacks

We are heart sick for the people of Paris and all of France. What a terrible tragedy.

We have rented an apartment in December in the 11th, less than 1/2 a block from the theater where 89 people lost their lives in the 11th.

We are traveling with children and are not sure if we should stay with our plans of staying in that apartment for 5 nights. I'm not sure I would feel safe in the neighborhood.

I suppose our options would be

  • Skip Paris and do something else for those 5 nights before flying out of CDG
  • Stay with our original plan (tix bought for Eiffel Tower and Versailles)
  • Stay in Paris, but get a refund (if possible) and choose a different location

If one of the attacks had not been so close to our reserved apartment, I probably would not hesitate so much.
I do not want the terrorists to "win" theoretically, I still have to keep my family safe.

Thoughts? Thanks!

Posted by
74 posts

JR, that's a tough decision as you have additional things to consider with a family involved. You don't mention how old the children are. If they are old enough to understand the news, what are their reactions and concerns? You will be close enough to pass by the flower memorials, etc. on a daily basis. Are your children of an age where they can handle that? As an adult, it is easier to make the grand gesture, but children may have a harder time. No place is more or less safe than any other. These were all normal neighborhoods, not dangerous parts of the city, so it really comes down to what your family can handle. If they aren't ready to go to Paris yet, as you said, you can always fly in and go to the south of France or to London or make an easyjet connection to somewhere else.

Posted by
3655 posts

It is absolutely normal for anyone to have an increased sense of apprehension about staying close to where part of this tragedy took place. Having said that, however, consider this. In Paris there will definitely be a great deal more security in that area and anywhere there are large crowds and transportation facilities. All in all that is a very good thing. While some attractions may be closed, life in Paris will go on and adaptability will be the key to having a good trip should you proceed with your original plans. You might want you reconsider your plans, but should you decide to change your plans you'll get no argument from me.

Posted by
2788 posts

I would have said the same thing that Nancy said but not nearly so well as she said it.

Posted by
646 posts

I agree with Nancy. I'd add to that, that Paris tourist trade is likely to suffer in the next few months and you may feel more welcome in Paris than usual. Not that Paris is ever unwelcoming, but they may be very glad to see tourists this December.

Posted by
6950 posts

Lightning doesn't strike twice in the same spot. If you're scheduled to stay where the problems were last night, you'd probably be just fine.
My wife and I have had some of our best trips in problem times. I remember going into the Hofbrauhaus in Munich one Saturday night right before the first Iraq War (1991), and we were the only Americans there.

Posted by
13693 posts

I'll go with what TC has expressed. Security in Paris will be extremely high so that's a comfort. I wouldn't skip it, and I sincerely doubt anything at all will be closed several weeks from now. There's always the chance of that given the unexpected, temporary threat - as we experienced back in 2009 - but the same could be true anywhere at all.

If it makes you feel better, choose a different neighborhood but I doubt that the area you've chosen will be unsafe for your stay. It's entirely up to you, of course, and whatever you decide is best for your family is fine but my guess is that the neighborhood is populated with 'ordinary' people just like you.

Posted by
13211 posts

I do not see this as a question of safety; that will be resolved and is not something you need to worry about. At least not in Paris more than anywhere else---in a way we are all at risk from these crazy fanatics.

But I can see how the thought of staying so close to where this horrific event occurred would be troubling. Your children need know nothing about this, but you will, and that will surely affect your enjoyment of the holiday.

I agree with those who encourage others to not cancel Paris reservations and " let the terrorists win" but in this case, with a reservation so close to the horror, it is a different issue. Can you still visit Paris and express your support for this wonderful city, but move to a different location, not so close to Ground Zero? I think that would be my choice.

FWIW we have reservations in Paris for next May and are committed to going, but we will be wary.

Posted by
31521 posts

JR,

I can only suggest what I would do in the same circumstances. I'd continue with the Paris trip as planned, especially as tickets for Versailles and the Eiffel Tower have already been purchased. As the others have mentioned, there will most likely be a greatly heightened security presence in that area for quite some time, so I wouldn't expect any issues staying in the 11th. However, I should add that I usually stay in the 7th so don't have much information on the 11th.

If you're really concerned about staying in that area, you could choose another district. You may get some good tips by having a look at http://youngadventuress.com/2013/02/paris-arrondissements-guide.html (I'll leave it to the Paris experts on the forum to comment on the contents of that website).

Posted by
7700 posts

I agree with Nancy and Lola. To me safety is not the issue but rather the prospective emotional impact on yourself and your family. You will have to evaluate that to the best your heart and mind can. I'm sorry you're facing such a tough decision.

To me, you should disregard the question of tickets already bought for Eiffel Tower and Versailles. It's only money. (I don't mean to disregard the savings that we all do in order to be able to fund these experiences when we travel . I mean rather that in the context of your family's emotional health, if you decide that skipping Paris and going to the south of France is better, I would NOT get wrapped up in thinking of the two or three hundred dollars/euros you have wrapped up in those tickets. Out of all the money you'll be spending on your trip -- and in the face of your family's well-being -- that is insignificant.)

Of course this is only one person's (mine) opinion when considering your question, and my thoughts may or may not "feel right" to you. I don't mean to insist that I know The Right Thing To Do.

Good luck as you reflect on what will be the best way forward for you and your family on your planned trip in light of this weekend's events.

Posted by
44 posts

Thank you all for your kindness and input. My kids are young. We have not said anything about the attacks to my oldest simply because she would worry relentlessly. The apartment we had chosen in the 11th seems to be right in the middle of all the terrorist activity. We didn't realize Charlie Hebdo was about 1/2 mile away as well. All points hit surround this apartment.

We have decided to try to get a refund from the owners. I don't know if they will refund us, but we will try. We just will not feel safe in that particular part of Paris at this point. You are all right, it will probably be perfectly fine, but it is disconcerting being so close to the "hot bed" of activity with two young kids.

That being said, we will keep our Paris dates. We are currently looking for an apartment in a different location. This is quite a task so close to our trip. None are quite right and all are more expensive. I would rather spend a little more money for peace of mind, however.

I realize things happen everywhere. We understand that. You just never know. This is just a little to close for our comfort given the particular area.

I do appreciate all the input. It was a tough decision...I loved that apartment....And, we love Paris!

Posted by
506 posts

Paris is such a beautiful place around the holidays. Knowing the French they love life and will go forward with their holiday plans. Other than extreme security I am sure it will be safer than ever now. I would go and enjoy your life. I wish I could go! All the people that work and live in Paris count on holiday revenue so you would be supporting them by going. Just keep in mind that everything may take longer and be slower due to extreme security.

Posted by
8293 posts

Keep looking for an apartment. I am guessing there will be many cancellations this coming week.

Posted by
7700 posts

JR -- Glad you have made a decision. I hope you are able to come to an agreement with the people you had rented an apartment from, but even if not, you have made your decision for your family. I admire your decision still to come to Paris.

Posted by
31521 posts

JR,

It's great that you've decided to continue with your visit to Paris. I never rent apartments so don't have any advice to offer on that, but you could try to find something in the 7th. I've always found it to be a quiet area, mostly residential but with some nice markets and restaurants. The Rue Cler area may be considered "touristy", but I doubt that will be a problem at this time of year. You may be able to get some "deals" on hotels in that area, so you could look at that also.

Posted by
77 posts

JR, we too have tickets and plans to stay in france over Christmas with our children. My mother has already called and asked us not to go, but this is a long-planned trip, we love france so much, and we are going to still go. I plan to see sites and all, but I know I will be looking over my shoulder when walking through Christmas markets, etc. If it were just my husband and myself I wouldn't worry so much. But having my children makes it different. I am responsible for their safety. But I am also responsible to teach them that you have to go on living your life, and not be constantly afraid.

My one tough decision is Disneyland Paris. My kids have begged to go for a day. :(

The last time we came to Paris, we stayed in that district and had such a wonderful time. I'm so sad it happened there.

Posted by
1170 posts

Cancel your plans, and the terrorists win. They've already made their "hit" there and are roasting in hell as we speak. I would not change my plans.

Posted by
64 posts

Would you cancel plans to go to NYC, Oklahoma City, Denver, Newton,MA, or any other American site of a terrorist act? Terrorism - whether domestic or international - is what it is, an unprovoked attack on the very core of your daily existence - it doesn't matter who you, where you are, or what you represent. Fear is their greatest weapon and your daily freedoms are what they want you to lose. I hope you reach a decision that you are comfortable with, both in Paris and in your daily life.

Posted by
430 posts

Certainly, your family's well being is the prime consideration, but I'm referring to your emotional well-being. Passing by the memorials would undoubtedly have raised issues for the children, not to mention the adults. But as for physical safety, I agree that you'll be safer in Paris now than before the attacks because of the heightened security. I also agree that there will likely be many cancellations, so you should be able to find another place to stay. There are plenty of rental businesses but we've been very happy with Vacation In Paris if you're still looking.
Once you've re-located, I think you'll be able to enjoy your time in Paris. And it will be a wonderful experience for the children. Despite the horrors that just happened, Paris is a big city and will have to continue functioning. My guess is that you will find people more open and welcoming because of those atrocities. People are often more caring towards one other after things go wrong. For a while, anyway.
You might want to make inquiries to see if the monuments you plan to see will be open. My understanding is that the Eiffel Tower, for example, is closed right now.
Our situation is different because we're not taking children this time and our trip is further off. Our hearts are heavy, but we won't be canceling. I hope you have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
74 posts

Amy, why is Disneyland a tough decision? The Mouse has pretty tight security. It just doesn't show from the outside. They have cameras on you and those biometric fingerprint scans to get in and out. I'm pretty sure those turnstiles or the bag check have some sort of X-ray or "unusual thing" searcher (for lack of a better way to phrase it). They take precautions seriously. That's why nothing has ever happened in any of their parks worldwide. It's not by accident. Take the kids to go see Belle at her house in France. It'll be fun!

Posted by
430 posts

Amy, Nancy's right about Disney security. I'm sure they have many unseen screening techniques at the point of entry but they are also very alert - and invisible - in the parks. One time my niece got a bloody nose at Disney, so my wife took her in a ladies room to try to stop the bleeding. It was not easy to stop. I was left waiting outside, holding my wife's purse. I couldn't tell what was going on inside but it took a long while.
So there I am loitering outside the ladies room, with a purse, and I finally started approaching women going in / coming out to inquire about what was going on inside.
I'm behaving in an strange manner, and also staying in one place for a long period of time. And then I start to notice the people who are watching me. You'd never see them if you're going about normal amusement park business. But standing in one place, I notice a woman who's been on line for food for a looong time, who keeps looking over at me. I notice another woman checking her park map, for a looong time, who keeps looking up at me. One of the cleaners kept "emptying" trash bins in my vicinity over and over. And so on. I spotted a half dozen people with eyes on the weirdo lurking outside the ladies room. And I probably never saw some others.
No guarantees, of course, but I'd bet you're safer on Disney property than just about anywhere else.

Posted by
11450 posts

Amy I think you are safest AT Disney.. there is security there.. its fenced.. its not like anyone can just walk in..

Posted by
44 posts

Thank you all again. We are looking at Ile St. Louis as an alternative. Nice and quiet. :) We were able to get part of our money back from the other apartment. It turned a little ugly though. They did not want to give us a refund and were not happy we were canceling. They are keeping (per the contract) the down payment. If they rent the apartment, they will return it. Let's just say I doubt I'll hear from them, but will keep an eye on the website to see if it is rented.

Unfortunately now, everything else we are finding is more expensive, especially in sleepy Ile St Louis. I just looks like our kind of place to stay. Yes, we like culture and quiet. No need for flashy locations, especially with two little kids in tow. Who knows...I'm sure we will have a great experience wherever we end up...It is Paris after all. Safe travels everyone!!

Posted by
7700 posts

The Ile St Louis is VERY charming and would be perfect for your visit. I hope you're able to find something that works.

If you end up needing to look at other options, please post here to ask for advice. (I would start a new thread though, mentioning neighborhoods in the title; you'll probably get more responses that way).

Good luck.

Posted by
13693 posts

I love Ile St Louis but I wouldn't call it "sleepy"; it was plenty busy during the day but should be quieter at night and in the early mornings. Because of the very central location, flats are going to be more expensive than further out in the 10th or 11th arrondissements. Hope you find just the right thing, though!

Posted by
1806 posts

Personally, I would have just kept my original rental agreement intact, but if changing from one arrondissement to another makes you sleep easier, so be it - this is your family, your vacation and your money. But the Ile St. Louis does not have some invisible dome surrounding it that magically ensures complete safety from terrorists. The message they wanted to send was that they can enter the most seemingly benign places - a restaurant, concert venue or sporting event - and carry out a seriously heinous act. They are not going to be limiting their opportunities to just 1 or 2 neighborhoods which is why, IMO, I would have just kept my existing reservation intact.

As for the apartment owner who just got your cancellation getting annoyed and keeping your deposit, let it go. You said it would be difficult for you to find another place on such short notice, so put yourself in his shoes - he was expecting to earn some income from your stay and you just cancelled on him. Now he has to find someone else willing to rent, but that may not be particularly easy given the short time-frame and the fact that this event just happened and many other cancellations are occurring all over the city for similar reasons. If he is able to get another rental and you get some more of your money back, that would be great, but if 100s of others are applying the same mindset as you and dropping their reservations, then you are correct to assume you will likely not see any more money back from the broken agreement.

On another note, a previous poster mentioned "Newton"; however, Sandy Hook occurred in Newtown, not Newton - not that the average tourist would ever have reason to really visit either Newtown or Newton… However, here in Boston, we had our own terrorist strike at a very well-known event and the subsequent police chase effectively shut down the city. I would really hope that you don't consider Boston off-limits to your children as they get older and start to learn more about the history of the U.S. Just like Paris, New York, London, Washington and Madrid, we don't want our cities to be avoided by travelers because of these tragedies.

Posted by
7700 posts

JR - given the difficulties that one of my colleagues who lives in the 11th arrondissement faces every day now walking her son to school and passing the sites - I absolutely think it makes a difference to change your location from there to the Ile St Louis (or wherever else). No, there is no magic dome over the Ile St Louis, but it does have the advantage, for someone traveling with children, of not having been subject to the carnage on Friday night. I can completely understand your thinking even if others dismiss it. And again this goes back to Roy's comment (on this thread? on another thread?) that why do we have to denigrate others' choices FOR THEIR OWN FAMILIES.

Sheesh.

Posted by
8401 posts

JR, Ile St Louis is my favorite neighborhood in Paris and I think you'll be very happy there. The only part of ISL that may be full of people is the western end of the main street (rue St Louis en l'Ile)... the entire rest of the island is quiet. But this time of year, and how things are there in the aftermath of the sttacks, the "busy" area may be much less so. There is a nice park at the eastern end. There's a wonderful little grocery store on the main street, an ATM and on the street leading to Pont Marie, there's a great bakery and a produce store that has the best fresh squeezed OJ we've ever had. There are pharmacies and a PO as well. The bonus is you are in the center, the heart of Paris, so you can walk to many more places than you could have in the 11th, snd you're surrounded by the Seine... so, amazing views. Enjoy!

Posted by
1501 posts

I can recommend a sweet little Child friendly hotel -- that wasn't expensive -- and the Hotel Proprietor couldn't have been nicer to my little grand daughter who was 11 years old: Hotel Eber Mars. We had a room with one double bed and two singles, so your family would fit. They may also have some connected rooms. We walked the Rue Cler - which is a quick walk -- and sat on a park bench and watched the Eiffel Tower light up every night at dusk. There are pizzerias in the neighborhood that are owned by Italians, and Mr. Eber made numerous recommendations for kid-friendly restaurants and sites for us. You may also want to check Monmartre area (sp?) which is way up, with beautiful views of the city. A lovely carousel for the kids.

It looks to me that Paris will be Very Safe -- as the French President is showing Very Strong Leadership and total intolerance for the group that has caused this tragedy.

Posted by
8401 posts

JR, be sure to take your kids to the Luxembourg Gardens... really fun for kids. They have a wonderful playground, marionette shows, a carousel, donkey rides, cafés, crêpe stands and restrooms.

Also, the Jardin d'Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne is an old-fashioned, clean, well run amusement park for children... very French, very fun.