Somber Bastille Day in San Francisco after deadly attack in France
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Far from France but close in thought and spirit, dozens of people drew together for a candlelight vigil outside the French Consulate in San Francisco Wednesday night to mourn for the victims in the July 14th Bastille Day terror attack in Nice, France.
The French Consul General of San Francisco, Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens met with the group at 88 Kearny Street and led them in a moment of silence. Then he and others broke out singing La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.
Some people there had friends and family in Nice.
Roxane Baudoin is in San Francisco working as an au pair, but says she was living and working in Nice before coming to the U.S.
"I'm a nurse and so was working in an intensive care unit in Nice so I have big thoughts for all my ex-coworkers because I'm sure they are working extra hard tonight to save people's lives," Baudoin said.
"I don't know why. Why France, why Nice?" said Margaux Virot, another au pair who came from Paris stood with a French flag draped around her shoulders.
"My mother is from Nice, my uncle lives there, my aunts..it's complicated. I don't know how I feel," said Francois Verand, a Paris native who works at a San Francisco bank. He and many others were in shock, and saddened by the attack.
Bay Area parties celebrating Bastille Day took on a somber tone as many people thought of the violent attacks.
At Belden Place, the famous row of French restaurants was decorated with balloons and the colors of the French flag. Special menus and tables were set for the annual celebration of the significant day that was part of the French Revolution. The mood, usually festive, was tinged with frustration and fear.
"Everybody's in shock right now, cause they don't know what's going on, they don't know what happened," said Olivier Azancot, who owns Cafe Bastille.
For many French expats, it is a second wave of grieving for their country, still recovering from the terror attacks in Paris just last fall.
"It's so crazy today, it's happened again after Paris," said Pascal Chantreau, a French national who works at Plouf restaurant,"I'm so sad. I don't understand why it happened."
"It's a day of freedom and to have their freedom attacked on such a day, it's almost unspeakable," said Mark Papedis, Plouf's Executive Chef, "All of our thoughts and prayers are going out to the people in France right now."
At San Francisco City Hall the French Flag raised in the morning for Bastille Day was lowered to half staff by late afternoon, in a sign of solidarity and support.
The French Consulate staff say a larger gathering to pray for the Nice victims is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday in front of San Francisco City Hall.