Service held at famed Notre Dame Cathedral following terrorist massacre

PARIS— Many people dream about visiting Paris, the City of Light, known as the epicentre of that period of history known as the Enlightenment, but for Laurie Roy Maybee and her husband Scott it was a tough call getting on the plane as the news from France was dominating the media. Terrorists had struck at the heart of the city, killing at least 129 people in the largest attack on French soil since WWII.

“Yes, we weren’t really sure what we were getting into or if we would even be able to land here,” she said, “but we took our chances.”

Ms. Maybee is the daughter of Larry and Glena Roy of Manitoulin and her husband is an OPP officer, formerly stationed on the Island. The couple currently reside in Barrie. Mr. Maybee was scheduled to attend a policing conference in Paris and the couple were headed to Paris a couple of days early to acclimatize, shake off jet lag and take in some of the sights of one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the world.

A photo taken by Scott Maybee inside the Notre Dame Cathedral just before the memorial service.
A photo taken by Scott Maybee inside the Notre Dame Cathedral just before the memorial service.

“He starts tomorrow so we had three days to be tourists before he starts and of course all the stuff was closed,” she said.

The couple’s hotel is located “in the Sixth District, just about five minutes from Notre Dame Cathedral” and getting out to see some of the most famous sites has been either a challenge or simply impossible until Monday.

“The hotel gave us a map with an area circled to stay away from when we got here where most of the action was,” said Ms. Maybee. “The people at the hotel have been really great.”

When they were able to get out and about Ms. Maybee said that she was struck by just how “normal” everything seems in the city. “To tell the truth I haven’t watched any news or read any reports because the less I know the better I will feel here,” she admitted. “But things seem really normal, in the pictures I mean.”

Things in the city are getting back to normal, illustrating the resilience of the Parisians. “We were able to get into the Louvre today around 2:30, it opened back up about 1 pm,” she said.

Notre Dame Cathedral re-opened on Monday as well and the couple were able to visit.

“We were at the Notre Dame Cathedral today and they started a mourning service while we were there,” she said, “so there were lots of news people about.” The cathedral itself was packed for the service. “They just opened it to the public this morning and it was jammed,” she said.

Since it is her first time in Paris, Ms. Maybee said she did not have a comparison point as to the police and army presence in the city, but that there was a “larger than usual soldier and police presence as well from what we have been told.”

The City of Light remains well lit, noted Ms. Maybee. “We have a picture of the Eiffel Tower lit up in blue tonight,” she said. But added that she did not think the iconic landmark had reopened yet.

“C’est la vie, as they say,” said Ms. Maybee, adding that she and her husband would likely return in the future to see the things they could not this trip.

“It really is beautiful, so much history,” she said.

As to the police presence, Ms. Maybee noted that although she was told there were more than usual “there are a lot walking about but not obtrusive or anything,” she said. “It all really feels normal if we hadn’t known something had happened before we left we would have never known.”

“We wanted to do a tour to the coast to see the D-Day sites,” she said, “but they weren’t running anything until tomorrow, so we will need to do that someday.”