The Bataclan music venue in Paris which was the scene of a brutal shooting by jihadist gunmen that killed 90 concertgoers last year is ready to reopen after almost a year under construction.
130 people died in the attacks on the evening of November 13 last year when suicide bombers struck near the Stade de France stadium and gunmen opened fire at cafes, restaurants and the Bataclan concert hall.
The new façade was revealed yesterday after months of renovation – and the venue has defiantly decided to stage concerts days after the anniversary of the attacks.
Pete Doherty will be the first to take to perform at the revamped venue’s inaugural gig on November 16.
Eli Hodara, 19, who lives near the Bataclan, described the new Bataclan as an important symbol of renewal for Paris and France, which has been in a state of emergency since the attacks last year.
‘Since November 13 it is quite something to everyday see the Bataclan closed and under reconstruction,’ she told the Associated Press.
‘And now …. that there is a renewal, that they are changing their logo, that shows that we are not holding on.
‘Of course [the attacks] should not be forgotten, but we should continue to live … and we should continue to use this hall for shows, concerts.’
The venue’s management said it had ‘tried to respect the various requests from victims and to respond to them wherever possible’.
Around 260 concertgoers who managed to escape the carnage on that night in November last year returned to the venue earlier this month to confront their memories.
One survivor, 28-year-old Maureen, who did not want to give her full name, said: ‘The hall was not as I left it. The emergency exit was only seven metres (23 feet) away, but in my memory the distance seemed infinite.
‘I went back there – I didn’t have to, but it feels like a sort of victory over what we lived through that day.’
‘When I left the Bataclan, I imagined it as a bloodthirsty monster which wanted to consume me,’ said Caroline Langlade, of the victims’ association Life for Paris.
‘In fact it’s just a room with walls where something tragic happened. It’s not the building itself which is tragic,’ she said.
When the trio of jihadists brandishing Kalashnikovs burst into a concert by Californian group the Eagles of Death Metal, Langlade was one of around 40 people in the crowd of 1,500 who barricaded themselves in a room upstairs.
Returning for the first time 11 months later, she was astonished to find that the staircase she had charged up in a terrified state was not wooden and spiral as she had recalled.
‘In fact, it was as it has always been – made of concrete and dead straight,’ she said.
Florence Deloche-Gaudez, part of the team of psychiatrists who have been working with survivors, said going back to the Bataclan had had a ‘calming effect’ on many of them, despite the terrible memories it re-awakened.
‘It allowed them to relive the event and feel those sensations again – the noises, the smells, what it looked like, the fear,’ she said.
‘Some froze while others were walking around, retracing the route they had taken that night.’
The visit also gave survivors a chance to talk to other survivors.
‘In many cases, that was the Bataclan security staff, who replied to their questions,’ Deloche-Gaudez said.