POLICE tactics in Paris, 10 days after terrorist attacks that killed 130 people, appear to have provoked an unintended consequence.
Sunday afternoon drinkers at one bar on the edge of the Marais were starting to get worried after noticing that a black Volvo SUV with blacked-out windows was parked badly at a junction beside one of the city’s biggest department stores – BHV/Marais.
Only after darkness fell and exhaust fumes became visible was it possible to see a man sitting in the driver’s seat.
Some at the bar had by then started wondering why the vehicle, which was partly obstructing a bus route, had not attracted police attention.
However, one passer-by who looked closely at the car was surprised when the window was wound down. Challenged about the parking position, the driver said he was carrying out observation and surveillance work.
Those promenading around much of Paris also noticed that whatever security measures were in place had become far less obvious than in previous days.
The area around BHV was busier than for many Sundays with local shops being permitted to open in the run-up to Christmas.
While some Eurostar trains from London to Paris over the weekend had been noticeably quiet, café life was clearly returning to near normal for the city’s residents.
The private security industry has however been enjoying a boost in business since the attacks – with most stores having guards near their doors checking bags and, in some cases, scanning shoppers with hand-held scanning devices.
Quite how much reassurance such peremptory checks really have remains questionable in the light of claims from Russia that the bomb that brought down a MetroJet flight over Sinai earlier in the month was in a 10 fluid ounce drinks can.
Visitors to the Louvre also had to pass through metal detectors while their bags went through airport-like scanner.
Queues at the major attraction were non-existent, with tourists able to see the Mona Lisa at close quarters without having long waits.
RARE: The concourse under the famous glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris was unusually quiet on Sunday.