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A Glimpse Of The Mood In France, The Day After Bastille Day Attack


And we wanted to get a sense of the mood in France which has experienced so much recently, so we called Regis Le Sommier. He's the deputy editor-in-chief of the weekly magazine Paris Match and joined us from the French capital. Thank you for joining us.


MONTAGNE: Now, when you heard of this - and you must have heard of it almost as it was happening - what was your first thought?

LE SOMMIER: Well, my first thought was a shock because even though we've been hearing about terrorism, potential threats to our society from, you know, January 2015 with the attack on Charlie Hebdo, we've grown accustomed with hearing terror attacks or terror attempts in Paris or anywhere in France.

But this come as a particular moment where even though the tone was somber and the mood of the French people was really dark and we were - we've had those horrific attacks and on top of this, you know, the country is still, you know, struggling economically, there's still high unemployment and not very good news, especially for the government in the past year or so. But with the element of the Euro 2016 of soccer, we've - we had a sort of breathing in between...

MONTAGNE: Those are the European soccer finals...


MONTAGNE: ...That France has just hosted.

LE SOMMIER: Yes, yes. Where our team made it to the final and was defeated by Portugal, but, nonetheless, there was a sense of unity. And we were going slowly, you know, towards the hot day of summer. And then, you know, guess what? We - a, you know, national celebration, 14 of July, we go - we all go to see the fireworks that are occurring a bit everywhere in France. And on our way back, we, you know, look at our smartphones and look at the TV, and we heard that people were doing exactly the same thing that we did like going - taking their kids, going to see the fireworks over the beautiful bay of Nice have been, you know, butchered by some guy driving a truck in the crowd. And so it really came as some terrible weight on our shoulders like we're being hit again.

MONTAGNE: Do you have a sense that security after attacks already in Paris, a series of attacks in Paris - in Brussels, too - do you have a sense that the government is not doing what it promised to do which is beef up security?

LE SOMMIER: Well, I think that the government must not be, you know, bluntly blamed for what happened this time around. I think on a number of key points, the government took measures in, like, sharing important information and the level of security also. You know, like the place where I work - our entrance is turning more and more and is more and more looking like an airport security check.

MONTAGNE: Right. Well, probably in a certain way just images still at the moment. And I must say it's hard to imagine anything sadder than some of these images of baby carriages abandoned or destroyed.

LE SOMMIER: Yeah. You know, I was looking at a picture last night. During the course of my career, I covered Iraq, Afghanistan and more recently Syria. And I saw one of the - one of the pictures struck me because there was this teenage girl apparently that, you know, you could see only the shape of the body because it was covered by a blanket. And next to her was a doll, and I thought to my myself the last time I saw something similar to that was in Palmyra in April when I went to Palmyra after the town was taken from ISIS by the Syrian government troops.

And in this - in one of the streets among the rebels over there was a doll, you know, next to bodies. And so it really - because that type of pictures where you see a kid, you know, leaving - and a doll in middle of the rubble. This is war. This is a war picture. I don't want to dramatize - to overdramatize the thing but Bataclan was a futile war. But when you see such a thing on the street, it really relates to what you see usually in places like Syria or Iraq more - much more than that beautiful place la Bedeshawn (ph) in Nice. That's something you never see like a kid being killed and leaving its doll behind.

MONTAGNE: Regis Le Sommier is the deputy editor-in-chief of the weekly magazine Paris Match. Thank you for speaking with us.

LE SOMMIER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.