There was still some blood on the stairs that led to the apartment of this French family, who wished to remain anonymous, when we visited them on Sunday evening.
They had lit some candles, and everything seemed quiet in the building where, 48 hours earlier, at 10:05 p.m., horror invited itself into their lives. “We were watching the France-Germany football game, when the bell rang,” said François, the father. “We never expect anyone at that hour.”
Their building is supposed to be an impregnable fortress, protected by four digital door codes. “On the landing, we could hear people crying for help,” Alice, 10 years old, recalled. Marie, the mother, added: “I looked through the peephole and opened the door. Ten people covered in blood, completely panicked, entered the apartment.” The older person of the group was about 30 years old. “Mathilde, Frédéric, Jenny and her Irish husband, and all the others had just escaped Le Bataclan” – the theatre situated almost 1000 feetaway.
How did they come in? “They had forced the door open, followed a resident, reached the last floor. All they were thinking about was fleeing as far as possible from the horror scene.” Véronique, the neighbour, also present that night with her family, adds: “The Irishman had received a bullet in the foot. With my husband, who is a doctor, we gave him assistance.”
Marie continued: “They really wanted to see what was going on the television.” The family then learnt about the bloody massacre happening in their neighborhood, while their home had turned into an emergency field hospital. “I brought some mattresses from my home,” Véronique says. The fridge was empty, but Frédéric ate a bit of bread, a banana - not much. “Nobody was hungry,” young Alice remembers. All the more so as the young man was still to hear some news from his two friends who also attended the concert. He later learnt that one of them had been shot in the chest and was in a very serious condition.
“Everyone was frantically checking their phones, giving news, trying to get some,” Marie adds. “The Irishman was still bleeding and we had ran out of bandages,” Véronique recalls. The ambulance was supposed to come within an hour, but never got here. François decided to “jump in his car to drive the couple to Saint-Antoine hospital” where the man remains.
Meanwhile, Alice was trying to entertain her unexpected guests, singing with them. Marie explains: “Mathilde came to the concert on her own. She was on the left side of the arena. She had heard some noise that she had identified as firecrackers and got scared when a woman said that her husband was bleeding. The emergency escape was blocked by some technical equipment - she had to go around the stage to get to the outside.”
While running away, she gathered with other people who were just as scared. “She was a bit dazed. I gave her a sedative,” says Véronique. “And I washed her sneakers that were stained with blood,” François adds. The group hunkered down in the apartment until the next morning. They all had an impromptu breakfast together before the “guests” headed back home. Frédéric was able to get back to his house, in Eure et Loire, a department in the southwest of the Paris region. He had come to Paris the day before to celebrate his birthday at Le Bataclan.