France has suffered a wave of terror attacks, resulting in a drop in tourism. Marcel Fürstenau vacationed there anyway, and admired the French people for their poise.
Summer vacation in France? After the attacks in Paris last November, that would have been unimaginable for many people. Whoever still had doubts would surely have stayed away following the violence in Nice. Eighty-four people were killed when a Tunisian man drove a truck down a crowded promenade in the seaside city on Bastille Day. The event hit the country's tourism industry hard. Paris and Nice are two of the most beloved cities for foreign visitors to France.
This year, I went to Brittany. I left at the end of July. Then came the terrible news: Islamist terrorists brutally killed a priest in his church near the city of Rouen. "Terrorism has come to the countryside," was my first thought. Rouen lies in the region of Normandy, where I vacationed in 2012. I, of course, spoke about it with my friends, when I met them on the Cote d'Armor.
But we talked more about the causes of terrorism and how to get rid of them, not about the state of emergency that had been in place in France since the November attacks, or the National Guard to be formed from 84,000 reservists.
This poise was comforting and contagious. I was already feeling it when I arrived at my accommodation in Chartres. That first night I went to the main square, where hundreds of people were dancing to and enjoying a live concert. A few police were there, but there was no trace of exaggerated security. The thought of suicide attackers did not distract from it. The next morning I went to the market, another worthwhile destination for terrorists. Again it was the same scene: loud, excited visitors and a few police in summer uniforms.
Let's learn the art of savoir-vivre!
Of course, I know there are different scenes in France - heavily armed soldiers at train stations and airports. They are necessary to boost security and be able to react quickly to threats. Nevertheless, I hope they are nowhere to be found on my next trip beyond the cities of France. Then my visit to the world famous Reims Cathedral, where I stopped on my return journey, would no longer bring the same pleasure.
Whoever enters the Gothic extravaganza will only notice the subtle signs saying not to carry a backpack after they are already inside. Only then did the threat of terrorism pop into my head for a short moment. It was something I had only seldom thought of during my week-long vacation. I was always at France's typical open-air festivals that every small town has during the summer. Savoir-vivre! I really had the feeling that the French understand how to live. Merci beaucoup!