Georgians in Paris say resolve remains strong

– Staff writer Janel Davis contributed to this article.

Haley Temple went for a swim Friday night, which is unusual for her.

Normally she’d be hanging out in Paris’ 10th district, where at least 12 people were killed in terrorist attacks at the Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant on Rue Alibert.

Temple, from Hartwell, Ga., said her boyfriend lives near the Le Petit Cambodge. Fortunately, he was at basketball practice when the siege began, she said.

“This is where Paris nightlife is,” said Temple, 26, a University of Georgia graduate. “It’s where the younger people hang out. Real relaxed.”

Lauren Sellers, who graduated from UGA in May and has been living in Paris for three months studying French, was headed to that same neighborhood before receiving a call from a friend back home.

While on the phone, she started receiving texts asking whether she was safe. Sellers said she had no idea Paris was under attack.

“This hits close to home,” said Sellers, 22, who lives about three miles away. “This is an area that’s popular with young people, and an area where I’m always at.”

Saturday morning, as daylight descended on a city ripped apart but still resolute, Temple and her boyfriend strolled through the 10th District, walking by the Cambodge, its walls and ceiling pocked with gunfire.

“There’s just an intense sadness,” she said. “Everybody is in complete shock.”

Sellers, from Cherokee County, said concerns are evident in people’s faces “but they are trying to carry on as normal.”

Slowly, life has returned to the French capitol’s streets, she said, but there are stark exceptions, said Kimberly Swartz, from Sandy Springs. Signature attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe were closed Saturday.

“It is weird to see so many stores and restaurants closed on a Saturday night,” said Swartz, who had come to Paris to see a since-canceled U2 concert.

With the heavy police presence on the streets, Swartz said the vibe was “no different than being in Israel on any day.”

Temple, who teaches at a Jewish school and is studying for her PhD in psychoanalysis, has lived here 4½ years. Attacks on the offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery in January were jarring, she said, but the randomness of Friday’s assaults are much more unnerving.

“You feel paralyzed,” she said. “I don’t think anyone’s afraid, but we just can’t make sense of it.”

She and her friends feel compelled to get together Saturday night, to not bend to fear.

Back in Hartwell, her parents have implored her to come home.

“I’ve become an adult here. I’ve grown to love this place,” Temple said. “This is where I need to be. You have to stay — standing in the face of fear.”

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