‘They could bomb the metro, or you could get shot walking’: The Cardiff third year in Paris

She’s safe now


History third year, Bronwen Weatherby, was visiting a friend in Paris when she had to make the decision to face what could have been bombs on the metro or guns on the street.

Bronwen arrived today to visit Hattie Temperley, a French and Politics third year on a studying abroad, for the weekend and was meant to go back on Monday.

She told The Tab: “We were saying they could bomb the metro, or you could get shot walking.

“We thought, well we’ve got to choose between the two and neither are a safe choice, but you just have to make a decision and go with it and hope nothing bad happens to you.”

We spoke to her about what she experienced tonight in Paris.

Bronwen (right) and Hattie (left)

Bronwen, right, and Hattie, left

We were in the 11th District when it happened. We came out of the metro and there were loads of Red Cross ambulances and police cars everywhere.

We didn’t know what was going on at the time. It really felt like the whole world knew before we did. We literally went to a restaurant, it was a bit of a weird atmosphere and we started getting phone calls saying “where are you?”

It was surreal. It didn’t feel like it was actually happening. It didn’t feel as bad as we now know it was.

There was loads of military outside of the Bataclan Opera House so we thought they were starting to guard every tourist attraction just in case. They weren’t saying anything, but they looked very busy. They were spaced out as if they were told in what sort of pattern to go.

Walking through all of the military, we felt so helpless. It’s not like they weren’t helping, but they weren’t there for us, they weren’t there to protect us.

My friend rang me saying they had around 100 hostages in the Opera House, and then it started getting real. All the Parisians had been calm until that point, and then when we came out we could see people running off in every direction. We could just hear sirens, just loads and loads of sirens. But apart from the sirens it was quite still.

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I spoke to my parents on the phone, we were just saying, “Don’t panic we’re fine, but we’ll let you know when we’re home safe” because we might not be.

You don’t believe at the time that anything is going to happen, but still in the back of your head you’re not going to say you’re safe yet, because I’m not. We were starting to think we could be shot.

It was a sombre atmosphere when we went into the underground. Everyone was just quiet and trying to get home. We felt out of control when we got to the metro and discussed whether it would be better to get on the metro or book a hotel or walk.

We were saying they could bomb the metro, or you could get shot walking. We’ve got to choose between the two and neither are a safe choice, but you just have to make a decision and go with it and hope nothing bad happens to you.

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One of the guys who my friend lives with came outside when we were smoking and said: “Have you got any wine left? I was in the Germany v France game.” He was in the stadium and heard the explosions go off.

He was really scared and no one really knew they were explosions until he came out and he saw loads of military with people with their arms above their head as if they had caught people.

He asked a policeman what was going on, and the impression that he got was he didn’t know what was going on at all. That was almost more scary, because if they don’t know what was going on, then God help us.

The power of social media is incredible. Hattie, because she lives in Paris had a message from Facebook saying we know you’re in the area, we hope you’re safe, can you let family and friends know that you’re safe.

For the people staying here, their future in Paris is in limbo at the moment. They have to live in the aftermath of it. You just don’t know what will happen next.