In mid-December, I took a last-minute business trip to Paris. It was far from my first time in France, but I hadn’t been during the holiday season, and I had a chance to check out a new airline (the wonderful La Compagnie) and to stay at the famous Plaza Athénée, which recently emerged from a huge renovation. The weather was grey and rainy, yet the city sparkled. In crowded Champagne bars tucked into the Christmas market, in cool Marais warehouses stocked with vintage furs and vinyl, in the newly reopened Musée Picasso, in hotels and restaurants decked in seasonal lights, I discovered a different city than the summery capital I’d visited before. And all I could think was how badly I wanted to return with my children.
In light of the horrific attacks two weeks ago, some travelers are rethinking their plans. Fortune asked “Will travelers cross France off their list?” The U.S. State Department issued a global travel warning, and the British Foreign Office warned tourists to be “especially vigilant” when visiting Paris. And I agree, somewhat. As travelers, we should educate ourselves about what dangers exist, both at home and abroad. But I won’t cancel plans to return to France, soon, and to bring my kids. It’s a country that treated us kindly when we made a first blurry-eyed trip across the Atlantic six months after our daughter was born, and one that left her dumbstruck with awe at age five when she watched the Eiffel Tower erupt into its evening light show. My son hasn’t been yet, but he’s as captivated by his sister’s stories (not to mention their soccer team — go PSG!) as I was by those blinking Christmas lights.
I don’t take risks with my children. And with emotions running high this week, I understand — and respect — the impulse to shut down any exposure to a potential threat. But absolute safety exists nowhere, and turning our backs on a city that makes us dream, that shows us art and beauty and romance and fun, feels like surrendering to the exact ideals those cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo fought against. So we’ll be headed back to Paris, this year and in the future, and when our children are old enough to understand, we’ll tell them what happened, the same way their schools teach them about the 9/11 attacks, which occurred blocks from our apartment, or the Newtown shootings, which happened a few hours north of our city. If I could keep them in a bubble forever, I would, at any cost; but hiding our passports and canceling our travels won’t accomplish that. So off we go, always cautious but curious, and in search of magic.
Photo credit: François Saïx