Paris cafe reopens after attacks as wounded city revives

Owner of the Carillon restaurant, Mokrane Hadjem, nicknamed 'Coco' welcomes customers during the re-opening exactly two months after the November attacks, in Paris. (AP)

With the blood and bullets now swept away, the Carillon cafe reopened its doors on Wednesday for the first time since it was among the Paris sites targeted by Islamic extremists in November.

The French capital is trying to revive tourism and commerce after the attacks that cost 130 lives and cast a shadow of fear over the city.

“Welcome to the Carillon,” bartenders said while opening the doors, offering a glass of champagne to the first customers, some of whom were altering between smiling and crying.

“It’s important not to wait to return to these places where people have suffered,” said Parisian Victoire Rambert, who lives nearby.

“We are lucky enough to be alive,” added her friend Fatim Layachi. “We must continue to live and to chat in cafes, drink a glass, even if today it’s more meaningful than usual, obviously.”

Bouquets of fresh flowers, notes and photos of those killed on Nov. 13 were still lying near the Carillon’s facade.

Two other cafes targeted in the attacks have already reopened.

Paris tourism took a hit in the weeks following the violence. State statistics agency Insee said hotel occupancy in the French capital dropped by 25 percent in the two weeks that followed the attacks, compared to November 2014. Air France estimates the attacks caused 120 million euros ($130 million) in lost revenue.

Parisian hotels — that usually have no vacancy during Christmas and the New Year celebrations— saw their activity drop by 30 to 40 percent at the end of the year, said the president of hotel union UMIH in the Paris region, Evelyne Maes.

Following the attacks in January last year against satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket that left 17 people dead, it took three months to return to normal, Maes said.

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