When people find out that I really like to visit France, I don't know how many times I've heard, "The French don't like us," as a statement of fact. Often this comes from a person who has never been to France, or traveled there only within the coccoon of a mammoth tour group, isolated from contact with any actual French people.
In 15 trips to France over the past 13 years, as well as several ins-and-outs of the country over a period of 11 weeks in 1959, I have not found the purported enmity to be the case.
Still, I'm only a tourist. Let me bring you an excerpt from Adrian Leeds' Parlez Paris newsletter, which addresses this topic directly. It was written after she attended a commemoration near the Eiffel Tower of the ten-year anniversary of 9-11, put on by an association founded in 2003 called "The French Will Never Forget." Adrian has lived and worked in Paris since 1994, providing French property consultation, conference coordination, and lectures. She's in the process of expanding her services to Nice, France. Thanks for these comments, Adrian.
Excerpt from Adrian Leeds, Parler Paris, “Like Two Children We Equally Love,” 9-12-2011.
In the on-again-off-again rain Sunday, September 11th, both the French and the Americans in Paris came out to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon with an impressively tremendous showing, thanks to an association called "The French Will Never Forget" (TFWNF). The association "was created in 2003 in reaction to the anti- French sentiments which prevailed in a large portion of the American population, following the diverging analysis of France on the situation in Iraq and her ensuing refusal to commit troops to operation 'Desert Storm.'"
Funny, isn't it, that while there are those who think the French dislike Americans, there are others who think Americans dislike the French...and of course, these people with little insight do exist. But ask any Americans living in Paris if they feel any contempt from the French and they will tell you stories "au contraire!" This was quite evident by the grand showing at the Trocadero yesterday afternoon with a long list of dignitaries and a stunning performance by accomplished musicians, not to mention the amazing structure designed to resemble the twin towers backdropped by the Eiffel Tower.
Security was tight. Areas were roped off. Our bags were searched. Armed guards were very present. Speeches were made, songs were sung, umbrellas were opened and closed as the weather changed its tune. On the towers were imprinted the names of the 3000 plus victims of 9-11. Two large screens broadcast the entire event from many angles visible from as far away as the cafés on the Place du Trocadero.
At 2:46 p.m., a minute of silence was honored, commemorating the exact moment of the first impact of the first plane into the first tower. My tears had started many minutes earlier, but the silence broke our hearts and I could hear the sniffling all around me. They weren't just Americans...they were the French, too.
I didn't know anyone who had lost their life in 9-11, but it didn't matter. What was really important was the open union of France and the U.S., the friendship between nations and between their peoples -- those of us (both French and American) who have one foot on the soil of each and our hearts, not divided into two, but wholly taking in both, like two children we equally love.
Editor, Parler Paris
See you soon.
Editor, Parler Paris
See you soon.