Free Press Journal

Bar targeted in deadly Paris attacks set for emotional re-open


Paris: A Paris bar where five people were killed by jihadist gunmen in the November 13 attacks is set to defiantly re-open tomorrow, in what promises to be 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 when the terraces of La Bonne Biere and the Casa Nostra restaurant opposite were sprayed with bullets.

In the weak winter sun, hearts drawn in red crayon decorate the street outside the Casa Nostra and you can still see remnants of the sand which was used to absorb the victims’ blood. Rose stems poke through bullet holes left in the restaurant’s windows – when they were first put there, it became one of the most-used photographs of the post-attacks 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 front of La Bonne Biere has been hastily repaired and tarpaulin covers the ground as the owners prepare to return to business as – almost – usual.

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 Biere 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 were killed there. Unlike La Bonne Biere, it remains firmly shuttered. But life goes on. City cleaning workers 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.

For now, the Bataclan concert hall, where 90 people were killed in the most deadly 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 Biere – and fresh flowers line the pavements outside.