Newlywed couple Ryan Gielen and Katy Wright-Mead had just arrived in Paris on their honeymoon when the attacks began.

An impromptu memorial for the victims. All photos by Ryan Gielen/Honeymoon in Paris, used with permission.


Disappointed with some of the coverage of the aftermath of the shootings, Gielen, a filmmaker who runs a production company back in the United States, decided to put his camera to use.

"I think it's really easy, cliche, and not entirely true that the city was in a state of shock," Gielen told Upworthy of the media coverage.

What struck the couple the most in the days following the attacks was the abundance — and richness — of conversation taking place.

"There was pain and anguish and sadness and tears, and there were memorials popping up," Gielen said. "People came to grieve, but it seemed to both of us that just as many people were there to engage with one another."

The couple decided to document their trip on their Facebook page, "Honeymoon in Paris," which contains dozens of incredible still frames from Gielen's footage. The frank, intimate images they captured present a city in one of its rawest moments — persevering — through the eyes of two people experiencing it for the very first time.

1. Deborah, the manager of a bistro near the site of the shootings, talks about why she felt she had to reopen the very next day.

"At first I didn't know if I was allowed to open. ... I said, 'I'm going to open, so people will be able to talk, or if they need toilets or something like that," she told the couple in a conversation they later recounted on Facebook.

"I will be open... You have to live... I won't let them scare me."

2. A soccer fan showing the press his ticket from the previous night's game at the Stade de France, where an attack was narrowly thwarted.

"He sought out cameras and then displayed the ticket for as long as they needed. Once the cameras moved on, he went looking for the next," Gielen wrote on Facebook.

3. A tourist notices a series of blood stains on the street near Le Bataclan music venue.

89 people were killed during a standoff at Le Bataclan, the deadliest part of the attacks.

4. A young man placing tributes to the victims on the Monument à la République.

"He circled the ledge of the monument for nearly two hours, placing mourners' flowers, and taping letters, posters and flags, and then just walked off," Gielen wrote.

5. The monument at night, transformed into an impromptu memorial.

"I moved to New York City exactly a month after 9/11, so the atmosphere to me feels familiar in that way," Wright-Mead said. "It feels like a universal moment."

6. A group of total strangers gathers to debate politics, religion, and violence — in the middle of the plaza.

The night after the attacks, the couple encountered a number of spontaneous "salons" — lively arguments over the meaning and significance of the attacks, often between people who had just met.

"It's something really extraordinary that I've never seen before," Gielen said.

7. A Muslim man "playfully kisses a man he was arguing with."

Following the kiss, the duo continued arguing for almost an hour, according to the couple.

"I think it was sort of electric with conversation — intellectual conversation, and people were really alert, but sort of communicative, connected to each other," Wright-Mead said of their experience the weekend following the attacks. "Everyone we talked to was open and willing to talk, and sort of debate. But yeah, I'd say it was high energy, for sure."

8. Another young Muslim man, who spent the evening passionately arguing that the terrorists don't represent Islam.

"I asked, 'Do you feel responsible for explaining Islam, or apologizing for Islam to your people? Is that what you're doing here?'" Gielen said. "And his response was, 'No, I came to town to buy a gift for my girlfriend for her birthday, but in passing by and seeing the debates that were happening, I felt a responsibility to present myself as what Islam really is."

9. Laila, a young Muslim woman, vents her frustration at having to constantly justify her religion.

"French people say, 'Why don't you come to the street with us [to mourn], to come debate with us, to say you are with us...'" she told the couple, "But we don't have to justify or act. ... Of course we are with the French people, we are French. We don't need to say 'Hello, I'm Muslim, I'm here!'"

10. A mourner pushes a camera away.

The media attention was thick, according to the couple, but some of those paying tribute just wanted to be left alone.

11. A man recalls narrowly escaping the scene of the attacks only a few hours before they began.

According to Gielen and Wright-Mead, Theo and his girlfriend had been eating at La Belle Équipe on rue de Charonne, near Le Bataclan, on the night of the attacks.

"We were there for a late lunch ... we left at 6 or 7," he told the couple. "At 9:30, the guys arrive with Kalashnikovs and kill 19 people. ... We feel lucky right now, I think."

12. A bomb scare forced Gielen to take shelter in a building with dozens of others.

Gielen was observing the salons in the Place de la République when rumors of yet another bomb started flying.

"It felt like all 1,500-2,000 people turned and sprinted at us, yelling, 'Bomb! Bomb! Bomb!'" Gielen said. "So the people I was interviewing, myself, we just turned and ran."

The threat later turned out to be a false alarm.

13. A family looking for their daughter after the false alarm.

"Caroline? Caroline?" Gielen recalls hearing them say.

14. Back in the Place de la République, 15 minutes after the bomb scare.

According the couple, the discussions, arguments, and conversations continued as if nothing had happened.

"Nobody's hiding," Wright-Mead said.

15. A young man defies the police in order to hang a French flag on the monument in the Place.

"The crowd chanted 'Bravo! Bravo!' and applauded him. When he came down he was hugged by strangers until the police reached him," the couple wrote on Facebook.

16. Police confronting the young man — as the crowd protests.

"Seeing he was a French student, [they] gave him a polite but firm 'no more climbing' and let him go," Gielen wrote. "The crowd, who showed restraint in equal measure to the police, chanted 'Merci! Merci! Bravo!' applauding the police discretion and parted to let them return to their posts around the Place. It was an extraordinary display of community and communication."

17. A young woman in a cafe, who refuses to be terrorized.

Sophie, who the couple met at Attitude Cafe, talked about resilience in the face of uncertainty.

"We are sitting here, and yes we are afraid another car can come, and kill us," she told the couple, in a conversation they recalled on Facebook.

"But come on — have guts."

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