PARIS • Parisians returned to work yesterday morning under the watchful gaze of armed police and soldiers, giving the French capital the air of a city under siege.
Machine gun-toting security officials patrolled the platforms at key transport hubs such as the six main train terminals, while messages flashed on information screens, urging commuters to be vigilant and to dial an emergency number should they notice any suspicious behaviour.
"Things are bad; we are afraid but we have to carry on," said 29-year-old Boutina Tazi, who works in information technology, as she headed to work in the La Defense financial district. "There are extra checks at shop entrances, security everywhere. It's all slightly surreal."
Yesterday marked the last of three days of national mourning after the terrorist attacks last Friday that claimed at least 129 lives.
President Francois Hollande on Sunday said that France would extend a state of emergency imposed on Friday for three months.
Public museums and other cultural venues, along with schools in the Paris area, were reopened.
Meanwhile, security agencies across Europe and the United States raced to piece together how teams of coordinated gunmen and suicide bombers evaded heightened security to strike in the heart of one of Europe's most heavily policed cities.
"Even if the atmosphere is very heavy, we have to get on with life because we can't let the terrorists win," said 27-year-old Amaury Larreur, who works at a hospital trust in the east of Paris.
Security measures extended to the capital's school system.
All French school trips have been cancelled until Sunday, French Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said yesterday on radio station France Inter. The same goes for any school activity that requires taking public transport. The only exception is for those already on trips abroad, who will return as originally scheduled. Other schools, such as one in the 15th arrondissement south of the Seine River, stationed extra security personnel to ensure only students entered the premises.
Employers, meanwhile, sought to ensure the safety of their workforce and to encourage employees to respect the minute's silence, which was to be observed at noon.
"Our chief executive officer messaged everyone over the weekend to inform us of extra security measures," said Mr Antoine Roillard, a 46-year-old who works at a savings bank in La Defense. "It never crossed my mind not to come to work today."
BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE