I am currently in Paris for the weekend and last night I thought I was going to die. I had gone to the Champ de Mars by the Eiffel Tower to see the live broadcast of the Germany - Italy game. There were thousands of people and the atmosphere was amazing: nice weather, people out with their families and friends, having beers, eating pizza. When the game moved into extra time after 90 minutes, all of a sudden there was a bang and everyone around me started off running in panic.
Given the fact that the city has changed so much since I last visited; security everywhere, bag checks at shops, in and around the metro, everyone was panicking. To enter the Champ de Mars I had gone through three bag and body checks. There is tension all around and when the panic broke out last night, I just ran. I ran so fast that at some point I tripped and fell, injuring my arm and scratching my knee and hand. One guy kind of stopped and told me to get up and go on. We were running towards the Eiffel Tower but as we were in a fenced area, we couldn't go further.
No one had a clue about what was going on. It was really horrific. I thought, 'this is it!'. I remember that security men were running around as well. Then they told us that we could go back as it had turned out to be a false alarm. I returned but I felt so sick and nauseous. I have never fainted but yesterday I was very close to. After I had noticed that I was bleeding on my elbow, I headed towards the medic tent to get a bandage. But I saw that many other people were much worse off. Some were on stretchers, others lying on the ground being given first aid. My little injuries were really minor compared to theirs.
I could no longer focus on the game and I decided to go back to my hotel. All along the way I saw people who had been disconnected from their friends, people hurting, it was ugly.
Today I read in the news that the alert had been caused by someone lighting firecrackers. Here is a video that shows the crowd when the panic broke out.
Unfortunately this is today's reality in Paris... Military men walking around with machine guns. I don't know if it has been like this since last autumn or whether it's only due to the Euro 2016, or both. I just hope that we can go back to living without having to be afraid about one another.
I promise that my next post will be more positive!