French Catholic blog Le Salon Beige has provided a minute-by-minute report on today's Walk for Life in Paris. According to that post, 10,000 people had arrived by 3:05 p.m., when the marchers left their gathering site, as confirmed by journalists at Le Figaro. Delegations from Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and other European countries participated. More walkers joined the group as the walk went on, bringing the number to 15,000 by 4:00.
By the end of the walk at 5:05 p.m., the number was said By Le Salon Beiege to be at least 15,000, and possibly as many as 20,000 people who participated. Catholique.org also reported that the number was more than 15,000. This compares with estimates of 10,000 to 15,000 by Catholic bloggers last year, suggesting a substantial increase.
Most of the French news media placed the numbers at 2,500 to 10,000 people based upon police estimates, according to another post at Le Salon Beige and comments to that post. The commenters assert that the police number was greatly underestimated and that it was greater than the numbers from the last 3 years.
AFP reported both the 2,500 figure as the police estimate, and the 10,000 figures as the organizers' estimate, and also mentioned that the annual pro-life march has been associated with France's right wing politics. That association with right-wing politicians undoubtedly has been a problem for the Paris march, and is probably a reason why the walk did not draw more support than it did from the French bishops and laity.
On the positive side, the AFP article also mentioned that people of all ages participated in the walk. Photos of the walk from various sources similarly show that a large percentage of the participants were teens and young adults.
In a festive environment, they danced, chanted, sang, and prayed the rosary together. They walked with banners saying, in French, "If you want peace, defend life," "No to experimentation on embryos," "Laws for Life," and "Priests for Life." An English language sign saying "Walk for Life" can be seen in one of the photos on Le Salon Beige. A large banner in Spanish read "Liberty, Equality, Motherhood."
Paul Ginoux Desermon, spokesperson for the organization that sponsors the walk ("30 Ans, Ça Suffit" -- in English, "30 Years, That's Enough", website here) spoke of the "banalization of the un-banalizable."
Six French bishops and many priests supported the walk. It was mentioned on the calendar ("agenda") of the website of the French Bishops Conference.