Why I’m Still Going to Paris

I lived just outside of Washington DC on 9/11. My commute took me past the Pentagon each day, one of the sites attacked that day. I was acutely aware that I was, by extension, a primary target. Yet nothing ever happened to me in the ensuing 13 years that I continued to live there.

I will return to Paris in a matter of weeks. I’m not changing my plans.

There’s risk every time we get in a car. I’ve lost friends in car accidents, I’ve even seen it happen.

Could there be follow-on attacks? Of course, though I’m not sure the risk of that is any greater today than it was yesterday. Indeed, in some sense the risks may be lessened because there are now fewer people in Paris aiming for such an attack than there were yesterday, by virtue of their having completed it.

I grew up in New York when New York was a very different city. I always carried my wallet in my front pocket, a habit that took a long time to break after I moved to California. It’s still good practice in certain places, think Las Ramblas in Barcelona and… Paris, where there are plenty of scams near tourist sites.

I’ll go for the breads, meats, cheeses and the macarons and crepes. And to just hang out in the cafes, the museums, and take in the city itself.

We should certainly take precautions against risk, but we also live our lives. And there are few cities as alive — for a visitor — as the City of Light.

Do you stand with me on this?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I am going with my parents to Paris after London on November 25th to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. My parents have never left the U.S besides a road trip or two to Canada while visiting my cousin in Buffalo. It will only be the third time they have flown in both of their almost 70 years. From the moment we heard, we knew that we would not cancel our trip and allow people to terrorize such a happy occasion that is a once in a lifetime for my parents. I have been to Paris three times and know this will not be my last visit either.

  2. I was there last weekend, and would go back next weekend. Completely agree with your rationale. There are definitely places in the world that I avoid, but a general peaceful, well run Western city like Paris is not one of them. Terrible events are made worse when we change how we live without the data to justify those changes.

  3. Totally agree. My wife and I were there last weekend, and though I am glad we weren’t there during the attacks, of course, I would go back again today. You have to live your life.

  4. The terrorists are winning a war of attrition. 9/11 fundamentally changed our way of life because it begat the useless and dreaded TSA. I can’t change how ridiculously expensive and stupid the TSA is but I refuse to stay home and never travel again!

  5. I SO applaud you for this post, Gary; both for writing it and the sentiment/tone behind it. Thank you. Paris is absolutely my favorite big city in the world, with some of the most friendly, welcoming, classy, gracious people anywhere (when showing a modicum of respect for their culture, which we travelers should do with any culture we visit). My heart breaks for their tragedy, yet I know they will continue to be one of the shining lights of what is special in the modern world and I will always remain grateful for their fundamental support for founding our blessed country (I’m also from the USA). To answer your question, yes, I absolutely stand with you on this.

    I can’t wait until the next time I visit France, including Paris. In the meantime, will you please pass along some extra love and support from me to them on your visit (and anyone else who reads this and is also visiting Paris/France, please do the same)? Bon voyage!

  6. It was so beautiful to see how the world felt about this atrocity in Paris. I wanted to go to the “City of Light ” immediately. I travel with no fear.

  7. Foolish and dangerous to travel to Pairs now. Consider the danger to your family members that are traveling with you. Here’s the best security information that should make any person take pause and cancel travel plans to Paris: France’s prime minister warned that “terrorism could strike again in the days or weeks to come.”

    How about a trip to Texas…..Viva La Texas!

  8. Wow, everyone who has commented agrees with you completely. Well, not me. I have a reservation for Paris for one week starting 11/28, and I am completely unsure as to whether I will go. I am scared. I would be traveling with my 7-year-old.

  9. Same here. I will be in Paris for business in a few weeks as well. I could not imagine cancelling. I don’t think of it as any different than going to NYC, LA, London or DC. I would expect more security, though.

  10. We are scheduled to leave from Austin to Paris tomorrow (Tuesday night) we don’t want to intrude upon a city that is in mourning, but also realize that life must go on and move forward. Can anyone shed some insight on what the feeling in Paris is like towards tourists? If any?

  11. Same situation here – scheduled trip for mid-January, heading to southwest of France afterwards. Of course I’ve been as concerned as anybody else, but 9/11 happened in NYC and the tourists didn’t stop coming either. Giving in to fear is precisely what terrorists want from us. And we just can’t have that, can we?

  12. On yesterday, 11/16/15, I spoke with three people who are currently vacationing in Paris. They sent candid pictures of the people out and about and they all said they feel safe at this time. I’m scheduled to spend my daughter’s 13th birthday in Paris next month and was considering cancelling. However, I’ve decided to continue on and enjoy our vacation.

  13. I made my first travel to europe this year on april, Im still in awe from seeing paris with my own naked eyes and i really cant wait to go back… it was my first travel on my own as well, coming from a very traditional mexican family and been a bit revelious of it myself, I didnt tell my parents anything until 2 weeks before my fligth specially after the Charlie Hebdo tragedy which was barely 3 months before my departure and 1 month after the Germanwing flight accident. I wont lie I was a bit afraid but I live in Mexico.. to be specific in the North just 15 minutes away from the international bridge.. this means that I practically since 2009 I have live in a War Zone, in a militarized zone because of the Narco problem in my country.. so i’ve seen shootings just outside my door that last all day and persecutions and blockades arround the city to prvent the soldiers to get from one point to another… so I am familiar to be alert… Im not saying im an expert but I realize I can find danger in my hometown and outside of it…so I was not going to let the fear to stop me from reach my dream. So I just went for it.. I spend 15 magnificent days between England and Paris and I cant really cant wait to go back, to breath, walk and feel Paris again.

    It pains me to see this horrible things happen but all that can really do for those who are not longer here is to conquer our fear to evil and live as normal as we can possible can.

    Peace! xoxo

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