and I find it a hassle with the strikes, protests AND Euro Cup all going on. The area all around the Eiffel Tower is gated off and roads closed and walkways closed. The security to gain admittance to the base of the Eiffel Tower is really a joke. We just went with a group of kids. 5 kids had plastic toy swords. 2 kids were stopped because of the swords while the other 3 were allowed in no problem. There are supposed "bag checks" all around monuments like at Notre Dame and the Louvre, but the bag checks are again ridiculous. I have a hidden camera compartment at the base of my backpack - probably takes up 1/3 of the total bag. That part of my bag was NEVER searched - don't think they even knew (or cared) it was there. It's a hassle getting around the Eiffel Tower also because all those trinket sales people who usually operate in the Camp du Mars are now pushed out to the perimeter where everybody else is attempting to walk. Drunken loud-mouthed fans (and some hooligans) are EVERYWHERE but especially congregated all around the ET. Loud and obnoxious behavior is not what I came to Paris to enjoy. This whole Euro Cup thing is a pain in the bu**. The Eiffel Tower tickets I stayed up late to purchase as they came for sale were no good because the ET people were on strike. Striking in Paris seems to be the normal way. Not good for tourists and makes me want to mark Paris off my list PERMANENTLY!
That's sad that this will be your impression of this beautiful city. I would recommend heading to the less touristy spots, i.e. Luxembourg Garden, lesser museums, or a day trip to Giverny, etc. for a break.
Feel better now?
Jean has the perfect suggestion--I was in Paris last month and while I missed all the hoopla you're encountering (and more than one aggravation can really get to be a drag, I get it), and I certainly did the basic tourist things, I also found it very easy to find peaceful areas to enjoy if I'd had enough of being amongst the throngs of people.
Our first visit to Paris we arrived the last day of Youth Day - 1 million Happy Catholic kids running around Paris! My husband made me promise we would NEVER have to go back!
So glad that is one promise I did not keep - I think we have been 8 or 9 times and are returning next year!
Unfortunately your visit coincided with a very busy event - that is not how Paris is always.
Perhaps it would be a good idea to avoid the area of the ET then?
I live in Paris and had a lovely day visiting the Arab institute, and then the gardens at Versailles.
With so much to see and do in Paris it's easy to get away from the tourist mobs and trinket sellers.
Well Tim, we're French/American dual nationals, have spent years in Paris, my husband is born and raised here, we're here now too, and you are right--it's the most stressful visit we've ever had.
Heading to lesser museums or Giverny won't help because they are overwhelmed right now. Luxembourg Gardens and the Tuleries are stll good places, though. Haven't been near the Eiffel Tower to see what you are describing, but indeed, some hooligans have already been deported. I wrote a warning 2 days ago about staying away from the stadiums and supporters for exactly that reason.
It has nothing to do with strikes for us, but crowds are overwhelming (and we go to few tourist places), we've personally seen two well-dressed pickpockets in the first two days--not the obvious Roma kids. String/bracelet scam guys on the side paths going up to Sacred Coeur were dangerouly coordinated and aggressive, surrounding victims (saw 5 guys surround a little family pushing a stroller) and grabbing them if they tried to get away. Very aggressive, not just annoying.
This is not the Paris we have loved for decades and have always been so happy to return to. The crowds are being discussed even on the television as we have the France Albania game on. After all these years here, we're learning how to cope.
Edit: For us, it has calmed down. We started taking the busses instead of the metro and arrived to all museums before 11:00 am with tickets in hand. we've spotted no more well-dressed pickpockets or overly aggressive scammers (only those men on the Montmartre paths--so take the funicular, the stairs, or rue Lepic). Haven't seen more armed troops with guns pointing on the metro stairs. Maybe deporting the hooligans sent a message.
So now we can say that we are enjoying our time here as much as any other trip or any time we've lived here.
You will also not want to visit Houston, TX the week ahead of February 5th, 2017 nor Minneapolis, MN the week ahead of February 4th, 2018. The American "hooligans" will be everywhere enjoying themselves during those time frames.
I think Tim was not prepared for ACTUAL crowds the Euro Cup would draw to Paris. But Edgar nailed it - no different than ant Superbowl host city. Mad crazy!
Running parallel to the Euro Cup has been the Copa America in the United States. You don't hear about the matches in the US because unlike France there have been no wide scale riots and beatings. I am very proud of our spectators and those from Latin America.
I can't even remember how many times I've been to Paris so please don't think I'm a newbie here. But this is the first time I've walked down the rue Cler and encountered groups of drunken men - "football fans" actually hurling bottles. Seriously! This is not a fun atmosphere - it's actually disconcerting and perhaps borderline frightening. This is a city with a broken down infrastructure at the moment.
I imagine the number of fans attending Copa America matches in the United States is considerably less than the number of European fans who have converged on France for the Euro Cup. Not to mention that the matches in the United States are dispersed over an exponentially larger geographical area.
There simply isn't the same number of fans nor does the host country care as much about football/soccer as is the case in France as compared to the U.S. And most of the neighbors are much closer than the States' neighbors (thus easier and more affordable for fans to attend). It's cute to try to compare them, but it doesn't really hold any water. (Yes I get it, Central and South Americans love their football as much as any European, but Seattle is a long way from Bolivia).
Tim, I do get it and it does suck. I myself am more than happy to be out of town for the moment! I wish you were having a better experience, but I can see what you're going through. I'm glad my family isn't coming to visit until August!!!
My sentiments align with Kim's: cute comments from people many miles away. I live in a Big Ten university town, so I know about stupid drunks. On the other hand, here in Paris our metro line, one that goes toward the stade de France, has formations of police on the stairs facing the crowds on the platforms, firearms pointing at the crowds during game hours. No one stirs, not even the pickpockets. Of course they aren't there to shoot drunks, but it's serious folks. They have big problems to handle and the hooligans--who train to injure and are very dangerous, are lower on the list of deadly problems right now. Giggle all you want about exhuberant fans and Tim getting a grip, then tell me when the last time was you took a metro with machine guns pointing at the platform.
Same is true here in San Francisco during the several weekends leading up to Christmas around Union Square and the shopping centers on Market Street -- what RS sometimes calls a voluntary hostage situation.
And the BART cars and minivans and HOHO buses bringing the hostages/shoppers to and fro are like Spanish galleons stuffed to the gills with booty for easy takings by today's equivalent of British corsair privateers.
Shiver me timbers!
Good reminder for everyone to pay attention to dates when they book a trip. We made sure we weren't in London on a Bank Holiday weekend, and we made sure there were no events going on in any of our locations that might cause the sort of issues experienced by Tim. Of course we couldn't avoid the strikes in France, but fortunately for us none of our travel was affected. Huge events like the Euro Cup are scheduled way in advance so everyone should be aware of these kinds of things.
I attended the 1984 Olympics opening football/soccer game between the USA vs. Costa Rica at Stanford Stadium (USA def Costa Rica). The stadium was set up with high chain link fence separating the spectator seating and the field was ringed by National Guard troops with rifles to keep fans from field. No one jumped over the fence. Prevention worked, no incidents.
Hi Tim, I have empathy for your post, for sure. I just returned from Paris a little over a week ago. I'd never been to Europe before and this was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime for me and I was so, so excited. I traveled with my elderly parents, and I have to say it was a grueling trip. My experiences were not precisely the same as yours, but there were a lot of similarities. We were there for the flood, strikes and exactly the week of the French Open. Everything was way crowded, of course. Bags were searched at all museums and at other monuments. Searches were a constant, although I certainly understand that. There were a lot of automatic weapons in evidence throughout the week. We had a long-planned (and pre-paid for) trip to Reims for 1 day that we couldn't take because the train was cancelled by a strike when we got to the station. We almost missed our planes home because of a strike on the RER line to the airport. (Thank goodness for Uber.) I wanted to love Paris and I did love the art and the food and most of the people we encountered, but the logistical challenges were constant and unfortunately detracted from our experience. I especially feel badly for the ordinary, working people who live there and struggle to deal with some of these same problems every day as they try to get to and from work. We spoke with several who were pretty fed up. I hope things improve soon for their sakes.
I have sympathy for you Tim. Most of my Paris visits were during state department warnings or public strikes. My most recent was during the November attacks. I'm currently planning a return visit just to use my Paris Pass. Every trip makes me say 'last trip!' especially this last one. It's a torrid love affair apparently.
Thanks for your report. We're heading to Europe tomorrow and will be in Paris in about five days, so we're definitely watching all of this closely. It's always good to hear from people who are actually there right now, so we have a better idea of what we're coming in to.
I agree- thanks for posting this Tim. We have tickets to go next week and are on the brink of cancelling them. I really wanted to hear from someone who was over there now.
Some of the expectations would have been more accurate had the topic been more plainly discussed here. But the PC line limited frank discussion. Its very unfortunate. You can still see the attitude when people who want to exercise a little personal extra care are called fear mongers in the forum. Disappointing we cant have frank discussions.
I travel for enjoyment and personal growth; and Paris just would not have been on my radar right now; this despite a number of very, very enjoyable trips to Paris. I have to admit under different circumstances I cant imagine a more enjoyable place. Sure, its a tourist mecca. But they come because there is something there that draws them; and the town is of sufficient size to absorb the number of tourists that come. Its not like the Charles Bridge at noon.
My current aversion to Paris Is not so much about risk. Sure its higher, but for me at least, still within reason; but it is about enjoyment and for that it just not the right time for my temperament. Based on yesterday's news and today's news I don't think things are going to pick up in the near future. Its a big world out there......
we are here as well. Arrived yesterday and hoping our train to Barcelona is running on Saturday. We expected the weather, the security, the football fans. But, these folks are not like fans I've seen anywhere. They are very drunk, very loud, roving constantly. We got to see group public urination on the Rue Cler last night. Today we are determined to love Paris- we will visit the Orsay, maybe walk around the Marais, have lunch, try to avoid the fan zones. Our tickets for the Eifell Tower are at 5PM. I hope we can get there as much of the area surrounding is blocked off.
Note that not one definition of hooligan contains the word fan. The Russian hooligan named Vladamiir,, who filmed his attacks, brags that they came to France to prove that the English hooligans were little girls, but that first they banded together with the English to attack Arabs for vengence. These aren't the vulgar fans descibed by Alan and Tim, but a dangerous group to be voided.
Paris hasn't been an easy city to visit for about the last 20 years, and like any growing metropolis, it's getting more difficult to live here. Even in the best of times, Paris will not meet everyone's expectations.
The problems arise when visitors expect that everything in Paris will meet their fantasy expectations and turn a blind eye to the actualities of life in a metropolitain city which is not prepared to accept the tens of millions who arrive each year.
If you didn't do any research about what is going on during the time you are visiting Paris, it's your fault.
An uniformed tourist has nobody to blame but himself if he considers that his trip has been ruined.
I haven't seen a hooligan, yet. Though I have seen a lot of drunks, which has nothing to do with Paris - it's the mentality and culture of certain sports fans. Soldiers pointing automatic weapons at the platforms don't bother me at all - this is a simply a warning to those who might think about doing something stupid - they won't actually start shooting. The Russians are a recent development - nobody expected them.
Anybody ever been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans? SuperBowl? A typical Saturday night on Bourbon Street? You could certainly get shot here - by police or anyone else.
We've just spent two weeks in Paris and we left there with very mixed feelings. Since we started traveling ten years ago, we've spent nearly seven weeks in this beautiful city. I love Paris and I just keep finding myself being drawn back That being said, Paris really tested us this year.
Transit strikes were a daily factor. We've found ourselves stuck on trains or in stations for more than an hour at a time due to some disruption or another. The locals shake their heads and say, "Every day!" The Metro was neither convenient nor reliable. Next came the garbage strikes, which resulted in huge piles of smelly debris overflowing onto the sidewalks. Fortunately, that only lasted a few days before the city put the kibosh on it.
Every day, we came to dread seeing the morning headlines. Here's what we were greeted with one day - "France braced for new day of mass street protests. Protests will take place in around 50 towns and cities across the country, but some 500 bus loads of protesters are scheduled to descend on the French capital in the latest day of action against the government's labour reforms. French riot police are out in force." As a visitor, this gets very old.
Also, just before we left, the Eiffel Tower was forced to close all day after staff joined the protest movement. So disappointing for those who had scheduled entries. Versailles was also closed one day due to their workers joining the strike. I like to plan our trips to take best advantage of our time available, but it turned out that planning was fairly useless.
Along with all of this came the near-constant wailing of police sirens day and night. Everywhere we went, there seemed to be a strong police presence, which was somewhat reassuring, but the sirens sure became tiresome. Just to be clear, this was annoying, but we've never felt unsafe. Paris is a very big city and can absorb quite a bit of disruption. Still, it was a very different (and difficult) visit for us. Our son and his wife joined us in Paris and, not having past good experiences here, I'm not sure that they would return.
Today, we rode the train from Paris to Lyon with a car full of very well behaved soccer fans. No problems, no disruptions.
We got back from Paris less than a week ago and while it was generally a good trip for us and we had a lot of fun, it was the most difficult trip we've taken in a long time. The flooding was historic and while we only encountered a few heavy rains, the effects were that many of the usual sites were not open during parts or all of our visit (the Louvre, Seine river cruises, the Orsay, Loire Valley chateaux). Of course the inconvenience to us was trivial compared to the destruction and even death suffered by residents. In addition to unseasonal weather there were the strikes which were even worse than usual, we couldn't depend on trains, metros, or even planes, and while it all turned out ok for us, it was an additional worry until we were able to actually get on the plane, train, metro. We missed the EuroCup itself but were there for the preparations -- the Eiffel Tower was fenced in and the police were either doing multiple exercises or pursuing possible criminals because there were sirens and convoys of a dozen police vans racing around several times a day. We were accosted twice by pickpocket wannabes but these were easily fended off. Still, it was not the usual carefree Parisian vacation we've enjoyed in the past. We will go again, but it may be a few years.
I am inclined to agree with chex - we have altered plans before due to events in our planned destinations - if the event or situation is enough that we feel it will deter from our enjoyment we go elsewhere - it is that simple. Once in Rome we were headed for Venice the next day until a couple told us they had just come from Venice and the mosquitoes were horrible - I am allergic - we went elsewhere.
Same thing for Barcelona - we were at the train station headed there and luckily a mother & daughter we ran into told us they had just come from there and it was packed for some event they couldn't find a room - needless to say we skipped.
That is one reason we love winging it - if we arrive somewhere and are not happy we have not lost on prepaid reservations and can easily alter our plans.
If I am going somewhere with firm plans I definitely check out what is happening there for my dates.
Correct me if I am wrong but this round of strikes seems more widespread than usual?
Tim, I have enjoyed your helpful posts here for may years & knew that things must be a real mess to get your dander up! Hope things get better son.
I think some emotional detachment (and not traveling during peak periods with several simultaneous activities) is in order. I'm in the minority but I love the Euro Cup and won't let some small number of obnoxious people ruin it. I've been in Europe during large soccer tournaments and I loved the atmosphere. Strikes during summer seems like an annual affair, so no surprises there. I know you're traveling with kids and probably have to adhere to a school schedule, but traveling off peak is a great experience. Hang in there - there must be more to Paris than the Eiffel Tower and other uber-touristy attractions.
Here's what Parisian psychologists, philosophers and elected officials had to say in today's paper - it might help to put things in perspective:
"It is a basic right of a democracy to express itself. Manifestations (protest marches) rarely obtain the desired results, but are an important part of the process."
"The "casseurs" (troublemakers at protest marches) are numerous, but are no more violent than they have been in the recent past. In fact, history shows us that we are in a period of relative social calm. It is the intense media coverage which makes this seem worse."
"Hooliganism" is a disturbing new development. The police are expected to maintain order, and will only arrest those who are caught in the act of assaulting people or property. Those who are found guilty will be charged and/or deported."
"We are overwhelmed by media coverage. It is important to realize that what we see is often not real. What we see on the internet and social media is "immediate" and repeated 24/7 to the point of being "super-saturated". This causes undue stress which should be avoided. It is strongly advised to "unplug" for a few hours a day."
I believe that this makes sense. All you will see on TV, in the papers, and on social media is hysteria repeating itself.
There are isolated incidents where things get out of hand, but not to the degree that people imagine. Remember that game "Telephone" or "Gossip" - many of the people reporting the news are not even in Paris. Those of us who live here know that things have been blown up out of proportion by people who probably have not travelled very often.
I'll repeat myself - Paris is not some bright, shining Wonderland. Paris is not a tourists' Paradise and never has been. Paris has been marketed to death, but by people who only project the "dream fantasy-trip of a lifetime" aspect, and who stand to make money from it. If you buy what they're selling, you'll only be disappointed.
Paris is a living, breathing metropolis with the same problems which every other international city has to learn to live with. The government is in an upheaval, which is normal for an upcoming election year. The government's first responsibility is to protect its people while protecting their basic rights. Transportation strikes are a part of this. It isn't an easy balancing act.
There is absolutely nothing anyone can do about the weather, no matter where you go - and it will only get worse.
Though I sympathize with people who weren't able to do the things they'd always dreamed of, it seems that they have insisted on putting too much emphasis on the fantasy instead of the reality.
chexbres - Great post...spot on!
We have been in Paris before and live in a metropolitan area in USA. My son (30, big guy, street smart) and daughter (19) have tickets to EF on 7/6 @ 4pm. Would fans already be at EF @3pm (game is at 21.00 in Lyon). I don't want them to be in danger or essentially in a huge Eurocup mosh pit. Son would be disappointed not to go to the top, but could visit on his own (just not to the top) on Monday 7/11 or Tues 7/12. Or, should 3-5 be fine at EF and then they would go to a less "fanzone" area?
chexbres - Great post...spot on!
Repeating what Agnes and James E. said...... That is a great post, Chexbres, and seems it could apply to many situations, not only what's currently happening in Paris! I love your phrase-"hysteria repeating itself". So true.....
If they have timed tickets, they should be in line at least 30 minutes in advance. There will be a security check, similar to what's done at the airport. They should not bring bottled drinks, food or anything else with them, since they will have to throw it all away before they can go up.
The fans will be contained in the zone as much as possible - but there is a large area that is not fenced off, where people will just be hanging out and almost certainly drinking. Police will be present in great numbers, and it is unlikely that things will get out of control near the Eiffel Tower.
If you want to leave without going through the crowds, I suggest that you head West, in the direction of avenue de Suffren, then cross the Seine at Pont de Bir-Hakeim - then take the Metro at Passy. Or you could head South on avenue de Suffren and take the Metro at Segur. It might be a little out of your way, but that should help you avoid any unpleasantness.
I would definitely avoid going East or North and would avoid Ecole Militaire and the rue Cler area completely.
@chexbres - exactly right! So often people speak of places in Europe like it is EPCOT at Disneyworld. The people there are living their lives, not waiting to entertain you. They have to go to work, and to the doctor, and take their kids to school. I'm sure they aren't thrilled about the delays and such, either. These are cities with city problems in addition to their beautiful buildings and great restaurants.
Yes, it is a shame that the OP's trip was not what they had hoped. I would be disappointed, too. But a lot of that could have been avoided by knowing that the Euro Cup was going to be there at that time. Yes, things get frantic and messed up, and security is an issue - they are dealing with a lot of people. But the problems with that are no different than anywhere you have to go through security. Some people are searched thoroughly or stopped for something that others are not. I have seen cursory bag checks at places like the Metropolitan Museum in NYC, where, unless I had a handgun sitting on the top of everything else in my purse, they would never have seen it when they peeked in. I've also had an empty water bottle confiscated at an airport, while my daughter (next to me) went through with a full one. What would be your preference - extensive security where everyone is thoroughly searched (thereby slowing down the line) or not searching anyone (which provides no security at all)?
Keep in mind, too, that for the Euro Cup folks this is their dream trip, one that they planned for. They, no doubt, understood how it was going to be. It's too bad that you didn't have that information, or even an idea that it could be that way.
This forum is a little too PC to be much good in determining some factors. Go elsewhere, do some research, draw your own conclusions and act accordingly in such a way that you have a good vacation.
Agree with chexbres too, well described. Reality brings not always what we want. It looks that dreaming is the mode of travelling, but makes actually people over sensitive.
When it's been beaten into the average tourist's head that:
everything will go smoothly
everyone speaks English, no need to learn French
Paris is a safe city, there's nothing to worry about
the transportation is easy and efficient
the food is outstanding...
...it's pretty certain that most average tourists would prefer to believe exactly that.
Nobody listens to those who dare contradict their fantasy.
Keep in mind, too, that for the Euro Cup folks this is their dream
trip, one that they planned for. They, no doubt, understood how it was
going to be.
Really? I would have been mistaken too. I went to the World Cup in South Africa and it was nothing like what is going on in France. The Copa America is currently going on in the US and it isn't anything like what is going on in France. What has been going on in France surprises me. It's sad.
I enjoy reading many peoples' posts here. I was in Paris right when all of the rains started. We were told it would rain every day and it didn't. The only thing the rain did was make us rest a little longer at the hotel instead of taking a shopping trip to the Galeries Lafayette. I'm not going to lie, Paris is my most favorite city in the world. Every time I go back I get a homecoming feeling.
I took my students to Paris for 3 days. I knew the strike risks and we knew the weather was going to be awful. I still managed to give my 5 students an impression of Paris that they will never forget, and I know they fell in love with it. They got to see MY Paris. My Paris isn't perfect. Having lived in France a few times, I am well aware of the strikes and difficulties that one may see. But the exchange is totally worth it.
When we arrived in Paris we went to a cafe across the street from our hotel just to give the kids a moment to breathe and for me to get a better plan on the day. We were welcomed by the best Parisian waitress that could have possibly served is. Very welcoming and very enchanted with my group of students who tried their very best to order une limonade. They experienced a cheery wino bum on the subway who serenaded them while drinking his wine through a paper bag, they got to taste duck confit, we got to experience the top floor of the Musee d'Orsay with NO other tourists when the museum opened, and I got to see how big their eyes got when they realized just how amazing a patisserie is.
I'm sorry many of you haven't had the best experiences. But man, I love Paris.
We haven't hit too much trouble on any trips due to local activities (and no strike issues, thank goodness). I am looking at going to Amsterdam next year and a few people mentioned that we would be there on King's Day if I kept my original schedule. Apparently, it can be a lot of fun, but it is also really really crowded. I'll make sure I don't have us staying there then - I don't like huge crowds at the best of times.
My one concession to crowds will have to be my bucket list trip of going to Carnivale in Venice (hopefully in a few years). I'll have to grin and bear it. I feel for ya...I don't like it when my best laid plans go astray...
Adding - I do remember in 2012 when the Channel ferries (Brittany Ferries) were striking. We were staying near Caen. We were to take one from Cherborg to Portsmouth to see my sister. We found out about 4-5 days before that strikes were going to happen. We had a car, so we were trying to determine should we drive to Calais and cross there? Stay with our couchsurfing hosts another day? Drive back to Paris and train or fly? Someone was smiling on us, because the night before, they announced limited crossings and our crossing was back on. Whew!
Also remembering with annoyance the US gov't shut down in 2013, when we were in California and missed our 2 days in Sequoias NP because of the shutdown. At least we got to see Yosemite before it happened.
everything will go smoothly; everyone speaks English, no need to learn
French; Paris is a safe city, there's nothing to worry about; the
transportation is easy and efficient; the food is outstanding...
Funny, I was in Paris in May and although this was NOT my expectation, it pretty much describes my experience.
Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience in my beloved Paris!! I am charmed to hear that your students had a marvelous time, too. In large part, because of your attitude and ability to adapt your plans, etc.
Tim is a well-travelled contributor to this forum for many years, I do not think he expected Paris to be perfect, for everything to go smoothly, for everyone to speak English, etc.
Tim, sounds like you hit a "perfect storm" situation, I'm so sorry. I hope things get better quickly.
Absolutely agree on the "Perfect Storm"
Tim do not let this very unusual situation color your judgement of Paris. Even Shangri La would be unbearable if hit with rain, floods, strikes and the Euro Cup all at once!
Susan - I agree that a “perfect storm” can be very disappointing, but has it to be a reason for a “divorce”? :)
Wil, when it comes to Paris, no, no divorce for me. But everyone is different and I can understand why someone would in this situation.
I totally enjoy the diversity of Europe - if everyone spoke only English it would be a dull place indeed! In my original post I mentioned that 2 plastic swords were confiscated and not allowed into the Eiffel Tower area but 3 were allowed in. What I neglected to include was that we also had real metal sword - yes a souvenir - but definitely metal and definitely with a sharp point. That particular metal sword AND souvenir antique revolver (gun) made it all the way to the top of the tower. We weren't attempting to sneak it in, but had forgotten that it was in a backpack. Again - backpacks were searched at the entrance but only half heartedly. For a country claiming to be ramping up security in the face of terror threats these kinds of things are a monumental failure.
You have to realize that if everyone were strip-searched, and their baggage X-Rayed or thoroughly searched, the number of people who would be allowed to have access to the Eiffel Tower (or anything else) would be very small indeed.
I agree that this is annoying and probably raises some issues about security, but people manage to carry guns and sharp metal objects on airplanes, too.
The government must make a decision about the general welfare of its residents and visitors. So far, they're doing a pretty good job making most people reasonably happy and safe.
Given the choice of being held up in line for hours, or being able to actually get to the top of the Eiffel Tower - or do anything else you wanted to - what would be your preference?
Tim, thanks for responding again. I can understand that the French approach of security do not meet your expectations to say it in a diplomatic way. If Americans would do the job it would be more effective, security clearly present, you know guys you can’t mess around, think don’t have to explain further how it will work, I won’t be surprised it would have giving you a better feeling.
In general “we” in Europe don’t have a gun culture, guns here are an exclusive right of the authorities and means for security you are completely dependent on them. That’s a (very) long deeply rooted tradition and I think we are more tolerant if you can be a victim in the case something goes wrong. In your case you want to have some control about the situation, but it proofs you don’t have and it shocks you more that security is not so effective than for instance if it would have happened to me.
We can have long discussions but we talk about a difference in mindset, so having a difference in how to feel about approaching important things like in this case security (strikes too, France has definitely a strike mentality). For understanding that you must have the capability to see things from both sides, really not so easy and if so I think really contributes understanding cultures in the way they are and I think will / can make travelling certainly more interesting.
It will be a pitty if Paris will be permanently of the list, ofcourse it remains your decision.
I sympathize with what you're experiencing right now while in Paris.
It's definitely not the best of times, but certainly not the worse of times either.
My daughter & I just returned from our trip to France, where we spent 6 days in Paris.
I agree, it was the most stressful trip I've ever experienced. We dealt with the train strike, the weather, & the consequences of the floods.
The police presence & constant wailing of their sirens was very annoying. We also witnessed the armed military men while strolling through the Marais District, around the Eiffel Tower, certain Metro stations, & at CDG.
As annoying as the sirens were, as well as the security checks before entering the many monuments we visited, I found myself feeling grateful for the (somewhat) sense of security which was provided.
Having said all this, I can't help to think that we only had to deal with these issues for a few days.
I now empathize more with the people who live/work in Paris (& throughout France) who have to deal with all of this, day in & day out...
I do hope the rest of your trip is enjoyable & less stressful.