Sunshine Coast woman avoids Paris attacks by one day

JENNY Munro had just finished a memorable week in Paris when she heard of the Islamic State attacks on the city in which 129 people were killed and 352 injured.

Yesterday, Ms Munro and her partner were still trying to comprehend how the city she had fallen in love with had transformed overnight.

The 32-year-old Sunshine Coast resident, who has been living overseas for almost two years, had been staying with friends in the 10th Arrondissement, just one kilometre from where two restaurants were attacked on Friday night Paris time.

Ms Munro and her partner left Paris on Thursday night and travelled to Annecy in the French Alps.

They were about to go to bed when they heard about the attacks.

"We were quite shocked and worried for our two friends we had stayed with in Paris," Ms Munro said.

"Thankfully they are fine. One had left for the weekend already that evening and although the other had been in another restaurant quite close to the attacks, she was unharmed but could not return home to their flat, so went to stay with a friend in the south of the city for the night.

"On local news broadcasts we saw pictures of the area we had been walking and bicycling around just days before, so that was quite surreal, quite scary."

Ms Munro said although the 10th Arrondissement seemed like a regular inner-city suburb, she had noticed a fairly beefed-up security presence throughout the city - something that had been in place since the attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices in January this year.

"Right across the street from where our friends live is a Jewish community centre and on a couple of occasions when there were gatherings, three heavily armed guards stood out front, dressed in military fatigues and holding machine guns," she said.

"That was somewhat alarming to see out our window on our first morning.

"But actually, if anything, the security presence made us feel safer."

Ms Munro said she was struggling to juxtapose the Paris she had experienced last week with the images of the attacks she had seen on the news.

"I had such a great time in Paris - I really fell in love with the city and for this to happen a day after I was there really hit close to home," she said.

"I'm shocked and heartbroken for the people of Paris and just in disbelief really.

"When my partner, who is a heavy metal fan, found out that it was the Eagles of Death Metal playing at the Bataclan Theatre where most of the casualties occurred, she told me that if she had known they were playing in Paris, she would have wanted to go.

"It just doesn't bear thinking about."

Although now in Geneva, Ms Munro said their Parisian friends had described a sombre mood.

"They say there are tough days ahead as they come to grips with the extent of the tragedy and the aftermath."

As Europe slept, Australians gathered yesterday to show solidarity with France.

A French flag was hoisted on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and prayer vigils and memorial services are being held at churches around the country.

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