0424 Back to the Riot Zone (Fra 049â€”revisit)
Montreuil Travel Blog› entry 49 of 201 › view all entries
But when I head west back towards Bagnolet, I realize something is going on. The streets are empty except of for a long line of vans full of cops in riot gear. Clearly, this isnâ€™t just your ordinary balmy summer afternoon.
I continue on past walls of beautiful, but sometimes disturbing graffiti paintings depicting a city in flamesâ€¦
Then, as I cross into Bagnolet again, I hear the sirensâ€¦ Suddenly an entire convoy of police vans speed past with a couple of reporter in fast pursuit.
I suddenly feel very conspicuous, a lone white guy walking down the deserted streets with a guitar slung over his back. I quicken my pace and look at my compass trying to figure out which is the way back to the bus station.
Then another police convoy speeds on pastâ€¦ and then anotherâ€¦ Something is definitely going on here in Bagnolet.
Part of me would like to see itâ€¦ but common sense tells me that thatâ€™s a bad thing to wish forâ€¦ These riots tend to have a racial undertone to them-- And I could easily become a targetâ€¦
Finally I reach downtown Bagnolet where a few shops are still open and thing feel somewhat normal. I see a couple Moroccan guys sitting in front of a cafĂ© and I go and ask them in Arabic, â€śWhatâ€™s up with all the police cars? Is there something going on?â€ť
The guy looks at me as if Iâ€™m an idiot, then responds sarcastically, â€śYeahâ€¦ Sarkozy is coming through townâ€¦â€ť
A few minutes later I understand the reason for his sarcasm: apparently Iâ€™m the only guy in all of Bagnolet that doesnâ€™t know about the riotsâ€¦
I stop at a cybercafĂ© and google â€śBagnolet riotsâ€ťâ€¦ and am a bit shocked at what I findâ€¦
Apparently it all started when police tried to chase some guys on motorbikes, and the guys ended up dying in an accidentâ€¦ This sparked a wave of violenceâ€¦ a bunch of guys boarded a bus, and lit it on fire, barely giving the passenger time to escapeâ€¦
Suddenly it all comes togetherâ€¦ I just happened to show up here in Bagnolet in the middle of a riot.
Then suddenly it all sinks in: Last night, thousands of tourists were casually strolling up and down Champ dâ€™Elysee completely oblivious to the fact that the suburbs of
Itâ€™s a very disturbing yet very significant ending to my Paris Suburbs Tour. Iâ€™ve seen the beautiful, the peaceful and the charming faces of this region. I needed to see the ugly face as wellâ€¦
And now I will ride off into the night on an entirely different sort of adventureâ€¦