Wendy Bridge was just a few hundred metres from the office of Charlie Hebdo when masked gunmen stormed the building, killing 11 inside and one police officer on the street in front.
The Australian-born woman said she noticed something was amiss when she saw “a particularly large” amount of police cars nearby.
“There was a lot of noise and commotion,” she says.
She then got a call from a friend and realised the alleged gunmen were heading in her direction.
“I was in shock because they said the car was going towards Pantin, and Pantin was where I was walking,” she says.
With two of the men responsible still at large, she remains unsettled.
“I think they’re going to have to crack down a bit on security, the way the Americans have,” she says.
“It’s really sad because it affects everybody’s liberty and that’s something the French really stand for.”
Fellow Australian Stephanie Hooper was shopping on the Champs-Elysees in central Paris when she heard of the attack.
Though she quickly rushed home, the experience has left her rattled.
“The general vibe seems a bit shocked and sad in Paris at the moment, she says.
“Everyone’s just trying to come to grips with what’s been happening.”
The attack, which came just weeks after a siege in a Sydney cafe left two hostages dead, has been particularly bruising for those with links to both cities.
Journalist Richelle Harrison Plesse was in Sydney over Christmas before returning to Paris.
“To come back home and for this to happen here, yeah it was just complete disbelief really,” she says.
Australians at home and abroad joined a day of mourning yesterday for those killed in the massacre.