Meet The Man Behind The Hashtag Parisians Used To Find Shelter

"It took me two seconds to tweet, and after that, for hours and hours, people gave their trust and their time."
David Ramos via Getty Images

Shortly after a series of coordinated terrorist attacks rocked Paris last Friday, locals began using the hashtag #PorteOuverte to offer shelter to others in need.

French journalist Sylvain Lapoix, the man who launched the hashtag, went on French television program "C à Vous" on Monday night to discuss his moment of clear-headedness amid the chaos, and why he doesn't consider himself a hero.

Lapoix was at home on Friday when he learned of the attacks on social media. At 9:30 p.m., he tweeted, "Those who can open their doors, geotag your tweets and [use] #PorteOuverte to indicate safe places."

He inadvertently started a movement: His original message was retweeted 760 times and was quickly amplified by international news media. It now has nearly 800,000 mentions on Twitter.

The hashtag "allowed people who wanted to help, who did not have a gun, who were not rescuers, who were not doctors, to help," Lapoix told "C à Vous."

Lapoix, a freelance journalist who specializes in energy and the environment, downplayed his role in helping Parisians in wake of the attacks.

Credit: Transition Energetique, 2013

"I had presence of mind for a minute," he said. "It took me two seconds to tweet, and after that, for hours and hours, people gave their trust and their time."

He thinks his hashtag took off because, "there was a solidarity that spontaneously manifested" in the city on Friday night. He noted how quickly the message was translated into several different languages for tourists and foreigners.

#PorteOuverte was one of a number of acts of love and solidarity in Paris and around the world after Friday's attacks. Parisians found refuge in famed bookstore Shakespeare & Co., a pianist momentarily united crowds by playing "Imagine" outside the Bataclan theatre and cities around the world held vigils over the weekend. The French also came together to support Muslims after the attacks, and social media users used hashtags and shared a viral post to combat Islamophobia.

Lapoix was incredulous that he was being singled out for his contribution, saying, "People tell me I'm considered a hero, are you kidding me? I helped people help others, that's all."

If you want to help victims and survivors in Paris, here are some ways you can show your support.

Did you use #PorteOuverte to find safety in Paris during the attacks? If so, share your story with

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