Sirens whooped so loud they drowned out the buzz of travelers awaiting trains in the Gare de Lyon.
“The station must be evacuated!” intoned the omnipresent public address system, repeating the message in French and in English. “Please go to the exits and help people having difficulty.”
Nobody moved. Hundreds of people from all over France and indeed from all over the world milled about, frozen for a moment with a mix of fear and confusion, obliviousness, and blasé cynicism.
Some had heard the announcement shortly before that this would be just a test of evacuation systems. Some hadn’t. But all shared in that moment a taste of things to come in a country that has weathered two terrible terrorist onslaughts since January 2015, and is now preparing for more.
Beginning on Friday night, and for the next month, France will host Euro 2016, a competition among national soccer teams from all over Europe that will be watched by enormous audiences in stadiums around the country, on television around the globe, and—what worries French authorities the most—in open-air venues like the Champ de Mars around the Eiffel Tower.
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Image courtesy of Reuters