“Did you hear the gun shots?” a friend asked. “No,” I said.
When the knife attack occurred, we, like many other families on a Saturday night in Paris, were out to dinner. In fact, we didn’t learn about the attack until much later. In retrospect, I’m surprised no one at our restaurant told us about it or warned us. Part of me believes they knew the situation was under control and didn’t want to ruin our night or scare us. Or they just didn’t know about it.
We learned about the attack back in our hotel room, flipping through the channels on the TV. Seeing the live report brought mixed emotions. The reporting felt opportunistic in that it was heavy with the sensationalism we are all familiar with on the eleven o’clock news with drive by shootings and triple decker apartment fires. But terrorism is different. It’s heavy on relatability.
Because it’s Paris, the world pays attention. That’s how terrorism hits home. Terrorists leverage low probability events into relatable fear: “That could have been us.” In our case, we had eaten lunch in the Marais and walked back to our hotel in the eighth arrondissement, not far from where the attack occurred in the second arrondissement near Palais Garnier (I’ll explain how in a minute). But I can tell you that’s not an area we typically walk at night.
We can’t completely remove the risk of terrorism. But with our trip and the attack fresh in my mind, I want to arm you with as much on the ground intelligence as I can offer you to help you and your family feel more comfortable when you travel to Paris.
Begin Your Trip with a Survivalist Mindset
Don’t be a sheep. Be a wolf. And that begins before you pack your bags. It’s easy to let your guard down when you’re in vacation mode, but you want to maintain your self-defense edge even as you begin packing your bags. For personal defense I break my gear into three groups. One group is for my carry-on bag, one is for my check-in bag, and the third is what I’ll be wearing.
What are You Wearing?
When traveling to Paris I like to try to blend in as much as possible. The French dress well, period. Be a chameleon and you’ll level the playing field.
To begin, I’ll have a sports coat, button down shirt and jeans on the way over. In the sports coat I have my fountain pen and carpenter’s pencil. In my jeans pocket I have a travel wrench and plenty of cash (always have cash). I’ll keep an extra fountain pen, pencil and wrench in my carry-on. Remember to remove the ink and put it in a zip lock as it will leak from the change in air pressure at takeoff/landing.
When the Lights Go Out in the City of Light
In my check-in bag I pack two flashlights, because you never know when the lights will go out. One flashlight has a rechargeable battery and a charging port for iPhones etc. The other is a tactical light and a travel adapter plug. I also pack two knives, a SOG Escape and a Kershaw SpeedSafe. As an fyi, the knife used in the attack was a three-inch blade which is the size of the SOG blade. You don’t need much to inflict serious harm.
Understand the Lay of the Land in Paris
First, always know the lay of the land. Imagine Paris, split in two by the river Seine. You have the right bank and the left bank. From there the city is split into 20 districts or arrondissements. The arrondissements (Arr) unfurl like a snail shell. Beginning at the first Arr. on the right bank, it spins clockwise, unfurling to the second, third and fourth arrondissements on the right bank, then crossing the Seine to the left bank into the fifth, sixth, and seventh arrondissements, back over the Seine again to the right bank into the eighth etc.
This is how you can walk, like we did, from the Marais in the third Arr., through the second Arr., where the attacks occurred in the Opera Garnier district, to our hotel in the eighth Arr. If you’re ever lost, think about where the Seine is located for your point of reference, then look at the street signs on the buildings. The number at the top is the arrondissement you’re located in.
Be a wolf. Go to Paris. Travel with confidence. It is a most valuable asset.
Your Survival Guy
P.S. When arriving in France and immediately driving away from Charles de Gaulle airport, it’s hard to miss all the warehouses/distribution facilities on your way to Paris. I found this article interesting as companies battle for logistics superiority by building in more affordable Eastern and Central Europe. The WSJ’s Isobel Lee explains:
The industrial real-estate market is booming in Central and Eastern Europe, thanks to the region’s geography and cheap labor along with the benefits of Europe’s unified currency and lack of trade restrictions.
Developers are adding new warehouses and distribution facilities at a record pace. The math is simple: the facilities can be built and operated at low cost in countries like Poland or the Czech Republic and still serve affluent markets of high-cost countries such as Germany, Switzerland and France.
Rents for modern industrial space in Poznan, Poland, are about €3.50 euros ($4.09) a square meter compared with €5 a square meter in Berlin, 170 miles to the west, according to JLL data.
This disparity has attracted some of the world’s largest retailers. Amazon.com Inc. AMZN 1.87% operates five high-tech fulfillment centers along Poland’s border with Germany, in Poznań, Szczecin and Sosnowiec, plus two in Wrocław, and it plans further expansion.
By contrast, the e-commerce giant has four fulfillment centers in Italy, a country with a population of more than 60 million, compared with less than 40 million in Poland.
Domestic and foreign investors have also paid attention to the trend. About 3.7 million square meters (40 million square feet) of new space was added in 2017, a 68% increase over 2016 and 55% more than the record amount, which dates to 2007, according to broker Cushman & Wakefield Inc.
“This is the right place for us to be,” said Robert Dobrzycki, chief executive of Europe for Newport, California-based Panattoni Development Company Inc., which built about 38% of the new supply in Central and Eastern Europe last year. Other players include Prologis Inc. (based in San Francisco in the U.S. and in Amsterdam in Europe) and P3 Logistics Parks, owned by Singapore’s sovereign-wealth fund GIC Pvt. Ltd.
P.P.S. Rising violent crime in rural areas, likely caused by an increasing use of drugs in those same areas, is stressing local police forces. Shibani Mahtani reports in The Wall Street Journal that local sheriffs and town police are being overwhelmed. This is all the more reason for Americans to get their guns and their training now. Mahtani writes:
The violent-crime rate in rural areas rose above the national average for the first time in a decade, according to the most recently available data from the federal government. Though cities, on average, still have a higher violent-crime rate than rural areas, large metropolitan areas are safer than they have been in decades, while small communities in some states are getting more dangerous.
In at least 10 U.S. states, most in the Midwest and Northeast, the rate of violence in rural counties has increased over the past two decades, even as it has fallen or stayed the same in those states’ metropolitan areas, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal crime data.
In these less-populated areas, increased drug use and associated crimes, like drug trafficking, prostitution and theft, as well as domestic violence, are fueling the rise. Dealing with mental health has become part of policing, as deputies find themselves spending hours searching for a free bed in a treatment facility. New crime-fighting strategies are designed for urban policing, and sheriffs who police small towns say they are playing catch-up.
Small departments, where budgets and the number of deputies have remained stagnant, are overwhelmed. The number of sheriff’s deputies patrolling 691 square miles in Ross County, which sits some 50 miles south of Columbus, has remained at four over the past two decades. The population over the same period has increased to 77,000 from about 72,000. Starting pay for deputies is $35,000 a year, compared with the Ohio average of about $60,000.
P.P.P.S. Small-towns are the casualties of globalism. Industries have been shuttered. Big government, meaning both sides of the aisle, have failed America. Just take a look around on your next road trip.
Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia Business School, explains in the WSJ’s Weekend Interview why he had students visit a failed middle America town: “I wanted the students to go to a place that had experienced industrial decline,” he says. “And they came back with a clear sense that there’s no silver bullet to our problems, but that people there had real points—that a lot of what you read about their lives is true.” There are, he continues, “real economic concerns in the heartland, but also concerns about dignity that neither party had addressed.”
Today, when my family drives to New Hampshire we pass through small town after small town that has been left behind. Small towns cannot compete with globalism. And now thanks to the synthetic opioid fentanyl and free flowing heroin, they have become drug havens.
“While Appalachia and the Northeast have been hardest hit by the new opioids, the upper Midwest is also reeling. On the other side of a bridge from Superior, in northern Minnesota, police working for a tri-county task force have intercepted 64.5 grams of fentanyl so far in the third quarter, enough of the deadly narcotic to kill 32,000 people, up from 12 grams in the second quarter,” reports Jeanne Whalen at the WSJ. “Officials in and around Fargo, N.D., are grappling with a rash of fentanyl-related overdoses this year, including among high-school students who were snorting the drug through nasal-spray bottles.”
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