Guilford Woman Back Home After Paris Trip During Attacks

A mother-daughter trip to see a modern dance performance in Paris was filled with terror when attacks happened just a few miles away from the venue where they were watching the show.

Liza Janssen Petra is grateful to be back home in Guilford, but she says the trip to France was sobering.

“We were at the reception after the performance and all of the sudden my phone just started going crazy,” Janssen Petra said. “I was getting messages with everything from are you safe to where are you to what’s going on.”

She and her mother had planned the trip to Paris to see Trisha Brown Dance Company’s last European performance at the Theatre National de Chaillot. When they were led out of the event through a basement exit, they knew something was not right, but it was not until they got back to their hotel and turned on the news Friday night that they realized what had actually happened.

“To go from such a period of celebration with this dance this company to just seeing terror and unknowns unfolding a few miles away from us was really surreal and profoundly sad,” Janssen Petra said.

She says the next few days in Paris were surreal and sobering, describing the parts of Paris as a ghost town except for police and tourists. She took pictures of armed guards in riot gear and signs on stores that were closed because of the attacks.

“Step by step we were seeing that things were very intense,” Janssen Petra said. “This was all unfolding as we were there.”

She says she feels fortunate not only because she was not hurt in the attacks, but also because she got to witness the city coming together in the aftermath. She says she will return to Paris in the future, but for now, she is happy to be home with her family.

“We all just snuggled last night and it felt good,” Janssen Petra said. “It was just a reminder that you never know.”

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