In a country that doesn’t speak the English language, kept out the Romans (for a long while at least), invented gourmet cuisine and produces pint-sized leaders with global ambitions as often as croissants (no, not Sarkozy, Napoleon!), accusations of holding 741 “No-Go Zones” that ressemble Afghanistan and Iraq made most French laugh (well, they need something to make them smile at the moment…).
Depending on which American news channel you watch, the news of the sickening terrorist attack in Paris, sent shivers down most peoples spines. But Fox News takes the Oscar for what can best be described as (politely) “amateurish journalism”. Stupid, pre-fabricated lies would be more accurate…cue the terrorism specialist Nolan Peterson. Has this guy ever even been to France???
Fortunately the rest of the journalistic world in the USA, and in particular the New York Times, were on a more realistic line. Thanks in particular should go to the French satirical TV show Le Petit Journal who in a typical David vs Goliath boxing fight, floored Fox News in the first round with some clever journalistic jabs to the chin. Fox News apologised 4 times!
France, like many terroist-threatened countries in the world, needs to move on and not bow to fear. Indeed the French, after organising a peaceful march that brought together over 4 million people on the streets – and many more at home, have found a much-wanted unity that other countries should take note of. The message is clear. They will not be daunted by terrorism and there is a strong feeling of unity between different religions – Catholic, Muslim & Jewish – avoiding any amalgamation between muslims at large and radical muslim terrorists. Despite the horror of the attack and the intention of creating more “radicalisation” and “hatred” amongst the different ethnic groups, the opposite seems to have happened. France, that has had its share of racial problems and seen the right wing National Front party shave away a fair share of voting from the established parties, has never been more united and racism “tolerant”. Even the President François Holland saw his popularity soar by a record 21%!!
But let’s be realistic. This may and probably will have a temporary effect (at least politically) as the economic realities of France come back into the limelight and the muslim world at large has taken ombrage thr the last edition of the satirical journal. But something has changed in France’s persona and it could have a positive long-term effect on what is one of Europe biggest multi-ethnic countries. Time will tell.
But back to the question in the title of this article, is it safe to travel in France? Of course. Just as safe as in most other European countries! Thanks to the French populations attitude to terrorism, thanks to French satirical press and sadly thanks to Charlie Hebdo. The New York Times published its 50 best world destinations in 2015 and one of the French regions I prefer and where I live, Burgundy, came 15th out of 50…ahead of Paris! So don’t be afraid, come to this beautiful and unique country and experience the wonderful French lifestyle at first hand.
Vive La France, Vive la Bourgogne and Vive Charlie!