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January 21, 2016


Fluctuat Nec Mergitur – A Symbol of Defiance

by soundlandscapes

FLUCTUAT NEC MERGITUR is a Latin phrase meaning ‘tossed but not sunk’ and it’s been used as the motto of the city of Paris since at least 1358.

The motto is present in the city’s coat of arms depicting a ship floating on a rough sea.


City of Paris Coat of Arms

Just as the declaration ‘Je Suis Charlie’ captured public sentiment following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January last year, so ‘Fluctuat Nec Mergitur’ became the symbol of defiance in the wake of the 13th November attacks.


Image via Wikipedia

Three weeks to the day after the attack that killed five people on its terrace in November, the café A La Bonne Bière reopened.

Rue Fontaine de la Roi

A La Bonne Bière – After the attack

La Bonne Bière

A La Bonne Bière – After it reopened

Rue Fontaine de la Roi

A La Bonne Bière – After the attack

La Bonne Bière

A La Bonne Bière – After it reopened

Sounds inside A La Bonne Bière:

Two months to the day after the attack that killed fifteen people in the street outside, the café Le Carillon reopened.

Rue Alibert - La Carillon

Le Carillon – After the attack

Le Carillon

Le Carillon – After it reopened

Sounds inside Le Carillon:

My most profound memory of the aftermath of the November attacks is that of a young woman, in her early twenties I suppose, who, a few days after the attacks, walked across from Le Carillon and sat down beside me on a Parisian green bench and began sobbing uncontrollably. She was distressed and utterly inconsolable.

Sitting beside that young woman on that day it seemed unimaginable that a few weeks later I would be recording the sounds of life returning to Le Carillon and the sounds of young people once again enjoying the company of friends.

Fluctuat Nec Mergitur!

Place de la République

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jan 21 2016

    Love the Metronome track in the background of the first clip 🙂

    • Jan 21 2016

      Thank you.
      The sounds I recorded inside La Bonne Bière are in stark contrast to the sounds I recorded outside the day after it was attacked!

      • Jan 22 2016

        “Liking” your reply doesn’t seem right but it is way to say I appreciate your comment.

  2. hmunro
    Jan 21 2016

    The spirit of the French people (and the Parisians in particular) continues to astound and inspire me. Thank you for this buoying post.

    • Jan 22 2016

      Thank you, Heather.
      I found recording the sounds inside Le Carillon especially moving given what happened there two months ago.
      It’s a very ordinary Parisian café frequented almost exclusively by locals. Tourists seldom venture here. Like most Parisian neighbourhood café’s it’s at the heart of the community. Both long established residents along with many younger people, students etc., congregate here. And, for me, that makes the attack on this place so horrific. Mainly young, innocent, people were shot here indiscriminately. It defies description.
      The image of the distressed young woman who sat beside me in the aftermath still haunts me.
      My reflections of the attack and the aftermath were very much in my mind when I recorded these sounds.
      I’ll tell you more when we next meet.

      • hmunro
        Jan 22 2016

        Your description alone of the event and the aftermath is haunting, Des. But I’m glad you’re overcoming your own feelings of unease and discomfort to document everything you can — not only to come to terms with it for yourself, but also for posterity’s sake. I will listen for as long as you wish to talk when we next meet.

  3. Suzanne
    Jan 21 2016

    Beautiful — life insists…

    • Jan 21 2016

      Thank you Suzanne,
      You’ve said everything that needs to be said.


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