In the weeks following the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, a CBS News crew traveled to the neighborhoods outside of Paris and Brussels in order to take an in-depth look at the roots of terrorism in Europe. "Les Banlieues," the first of these documentaries, airs tonight at 8pm ET exclusively on CBSN. Ahead of the premiere, CBS News producer Christina Ruffini, pictured here, shared a series photographs she captured from the field."While we were doing interviews in Montmartre, a local artist wanted to sketch someone from our team after speaking with us," said Ruffini. "He was extremely talented and kind but it put about 20 minutes behind schedule."
Young Men in Courneuve
This group of young men live in a housing project--known as HLMs--in Courneuve, just outside of Paris. "All of these kids are first-generation French with parents from Mali," Ruffini said. "Even at their young age, they are aware of how difficult it is to have an immigrant background in France."
After a number of failed attempts, the crew was able to gain access to a squatter's apartment on the top floor of a massive housing project in Courneuve. "These areas are not very media friendly because they've been burned so many times by the press," said Ruffini. "But after talking to people in the neighborhood for a few days and coming back several times, a young man from the neighborhood agreed to take us upstairs." The view of the Eiffel Tower from the balcony contrasts sharply with the squalor of the apartment, where dog feces and drug paraphernalia covered the floor.
A French Family
Here, a French woman cooks a traditional Malian meal with her infant daughter in a swaddle on her back. "This is inside the home of a successful first generation couple," said Ruffini. "That they own a home outside the city is a major accomplishment and they are rightfully very proud."
A few of the perpetrators of the Nov. 13 attacks were hiding in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris. When the CBS News crew traveled to this neighborhood to conduct interviews, they were told by locals that the area used to be filled with crime and drugs. Today, it is an open air market, a central meeting place for the community. "The strangest thing," said Ruffini, "is that we were told so many times that these suburbs were very dangerous and we shouldn't go there. Then we got there and there were smiling vendors selling us peanuts along this lovely riverfront. It was totally different from what we were expecting."
Pauline and Julian
Pauline and Julian, a young French couple who spoke to the team, embrace in a cafe off the town square in Saint-Denis. Julian has a French mother and Moroccan father; Pauline has two French parents. Ruffini points out that, despite coming from different backgrounds, "Pauline and Julian grew up in the same neighborhood and faced the same problems which they are now trying to overcome together." Julian, after being interviewed by the CBS News crew and helping them navigate the neighborhood, shared that he might someday like to be a journalist himself.
A Familiar Scene
Pictured here is a typical Parisian street scene outside of a cafe in an upscale neighborhood in Paris. "It was such a stark contract to the areas where we did most of our reporting," said Ruffini.
Before departing France, Ruffini captured CBS News digital journalist Gilad Thaler snapping a well known view of Paris, a photo of the iconic Eiffel Tower."This view is inaccessible for so many of the people we spoke to who live outside the capital city, and, in many ways, outside of French society," said Ruffini. "It's so close and yet seems completely out of reach."