FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH IN PARIS

Eurostar had a special offer, £62 return to Paris, how could I resist. I bought shares in the Tunnel in the 80s for the principal, my dream made real. The first time I went through in 1994 I was so moved I cried.
Paris is my second home, I have been going there virtually every year since I was 7, I lived there for a year in 1969, my aunt lived there from the early 50s to her death in 2009. Je suis Parisienne.

On Wednesday 11 November we drove past the Arc de Triomphe after the Remembrance Day ceremony. The Tricolor was suspended in the arch, almost the full length, the biggest flag I have ever seen. Vive la France. We visited the Musee Orsay with its wonderful Impressionist and Post Impressionist paintings. Then we had tea with a friend who lives on a houseboat on the Seine at the foot of the Place de la Concorde, chic. Dinner at the Cafe Flore with Frederic Mitterrand who will help me with one of my book projects.

On Thursday 12 November I met a friend at the Grand Palais for the Picasso Mania exhibition, paintings by the many artists he inspired. He inspired me so much I went on to the renovated Musee de Picasso, four floors of the master's work. I found it very moving, following nearly 70 years of his astonishing work. After that I visited my colleague and friend, who was paralysed in an accident three years ago, in her lovely new flat, everything adapted to her needs. She is a very courageous and positive person.

On Friday 13 November I had my appointment with the surrealist poet Joyce Mansour's daughter-in -law in the hopes of obtaining the translation rights to her work. The meeting went extremely well and I came out feeling very encouraged. I have the rights. Dinner with G and D in a typically French restaurant, a sumptuous and delicious meal and a happy occasion. The whole trip had been a great success and a real morale boost. Watching the news on TV later that evening as the massive terrorist attack unfolded in real time, I began to realise that something utterly terrible was happening. Paris, City of Light, beautiful, cultured, civilised, spared by Hitler, living a nightmare.

On Saturday 14 November I cancelled my visit to the Frank Gehry Fondation Vuitton and made my way by bus to the Gare du Nord, too nervous to take the metro. The city was deserted, eerily quiet, shops all closed, everyone numb and in shock.There were armed police all over the station. A friend met me for a coffee.
The Eurostar left on time, no problems. I was very relieved when we came through the Tunnel onto British soil. There were armed police all over St. Pancras station. We could be next. I won't forget Friday the thirteenth in Paris. This is their 9/11.

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