Today marks three years since Paris was hit by a series of coordinated attacks that left over 130 dead and an entire country in shock.
On November 13, 2015, France’s national football stadium, cafés, restaurants and a concert hall were targeted - in a night that many will never forget. Especially those who lived through it.
For the survivors of the Paris attacks, it’s been a particularly painful and long road to recovery.
“At first I didn’t understand what was happening. I thought it was a joke.” Catherine Bertrand told Euronews.
It was Friday night, and Catherine was out partying in one of her favourite concert halls in Paris when she was caught in unprecedented violence- “I thought they were firecrackers. Or a recording, a joke” she went on. “But from the moment I saw people collapsing on top of each other, I entered a state of shock.”
Three attackers armed with Kalashnikovs and wearing suicide vests had entered the Bataclan concert hall determined to carry out a massacre. “Yes I was afraid of dying. But strangely I wasn’t scared of dying inside the Bataclan.” Catherine said. For her it was the fear of the unknown that had her worried “I was more afraid of dying once I was outside - people who were stuck in the emergency exit, and in the stairwell with me, didn’t want to get out Because they were shooting in the street too.” She said with a slight tremor in her voice. “And it was a blood bath.”
Across Paris a series of coordinated attacks that Friday night hit ordinary people hard. The targets - football lovers, concert goers. people celebrating the end of a working week. People living their lives.
Three years on, Catherine is still reeling from what happened. As part of her healing process, she published a book, ‘The Chronicles of a Survivor’ - ...a depiction of her life’s new chapter.
When asked what the book’s title means she replied “for me a survivor is someone who fights to live and tries to find a compromise to be as well as possible in his or her new life. Because we all changed lives in this story.”
Like Catherine and other survivors, France also changed as a consequence of the Paris attacks. But also like Catherine, the country’s determination not let what happened define it seems overwhelmingly stronger than the terror that struck three years ago.