Karen Leslie: Toulouse stand-off has shocked quiet community

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AS someone who spent years living in affluent Côte Pavée it is incomprehensible to understand what’s been happening there this week - it’s just not that kind of place.

The suburb is well-heeled and full of mostly young, admittedly white, couples and families, who drive their children to extra classes on Saturdays and wash their cars on Sundays. With two highly reputable schools in the area, properties are sought after.

It was the first place the relocation assistant took us when my husband and I arrived as complete strangers to the city, assuring us that it was ‘the best area in Toulouse to live’.

There’s a real mix of properties in the area. We signed for the first apartment we saw, which was more suited to a Miami beachfront than a leafy suburb. Next door was a traditional Toulousan maison de ville, while around the corner was a swanky new development of private flats - and all less than a kilometre away from the social housing where the man accused of the horrific shootings was holed up.

Toulouse is unfamiliar with violent atrocities. For a killing spree which has left a father, three young children and three soldiers dead to happen here is unthinkable. Les Toulousains are in a state of shock.

But it was the randomness of the attacks that really had us frightened. After the idea that it was Far Right extremists was dismissed, new worries surfaced: if the killer could travel 45 minutes north to Montauban where the second paratroopers were shot dead, then he could just as easily travel 45 minutes east, west or south. We don’t live in Cote Pavee anymore, but no district seemed safe.

I haven’t slept much since Monday and I, along with many others in the area are hoping for a good night’s rest when hopefully the police finally end the hostage situation.

• Karen Leslie grew up in Tollcross, attended James Gillespie’s High School and worked at Scottish Telecom before moving to Toulouse 13 years ago.