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Paris & France Transport Strike Hedge Pointers

I ended the daily public transport strike update which ran for 3.5 months. There will always be protest and transport strike risks. Some ways to hedge:

1) Metro 1&14 are strike-proof and most tourist sights are on M1 line. Consider lodging near Metro 1&14, except M1 stations on Champs-Elysees (often closed due to protest and crowd gathering events). Chatelet is the most convenient public transport hub (M1/4/7/11/14, RER A/B/D, dozens of bus, Disney shuttle). République is the most protest-prone location (often metro/streets/shops closure).

2) From CDG to Paris when SNCF or RATP is on strike -- skip RER-B, take Le Bus Direct to connect to M1/14 @Etoile-Champs Elysees (M1), @Gare de Lyon (M1/14). Roissybus works if lodging is near Opera. Opera is not a M1/14 stop and it has many flights of stairs, M14 Madeleine is 5-min walk from Opera (FYI -- average 4-6 flights of stairs per metro station. Only RER stations and M14 stations have elevators/escalators)

3) Official taxi are not allowed to charge more during strike. Know the Airport-City taxi flat rate. Uber is known for unpredictable "surge charge" during transport strike.

4) It is financially more feasible for SNCF/RATP workers to strike in December/January b/c they receive 13th month pay in December. To visit Strasbourg/Colmar Xmas markets, safer to fly in/out of Frankfurt Airport and take the Lufthansa Frankfurt Airport-Strasbourg Express Bus.

5) Direct SNCF TGV and Deutsche Bahn's ICE run b/w Frankfurt main train station (Hbf) and Paris Gare de l'Est, and Paris-Strasbourg-Stuttgart. Need 1 easy train connection if from/to Frankfurt Airport. Both TGV/ICE bookable on both DB/SNCF sites -- if ICE/TGV booked from DB site is cancelled due to SNCF strike, DB $ refund is prompt/easy and DB allows taking a same-day alternative ICE without re-booking (take any open seat or sit in restaurant car). Re-booking is required if TGV/ICE ticket is bought from SNCF. To get $ refund from SNCF needs extra effort. https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml.

5) Consider long distance buses Euroline/Isilines/Flixbus as back-up (not SNCF's Ouibus)

6) CDG/Orly Airport real-time road condition & public transport info -- https://www.parisaeroport.fr/en, click on ACCESS.

7) For drivers -- French government info for real-time traffic status/forecast, weather/road condition (in English) https://www.bison-fute.gouv.fr/index,langen.html

8) Local transport strike affects monument/museum opening/closing time because staff can't get to work. Check in the morning the web site/twitter of monument/museum you plan to visit.

9) To monitor strike/protest:
--Good resource site listing all CURRENT & UP-COMING STRIKES in France https://www.cestlagreve.fr/ FYI -- work-stoppage often starts in THE EVENING BEFORE the declared strike day, and lasts into early morning hours THE DAY AFTER the declared strike day. Stoppage time info is in the strike notice filed by the unions (search words: union's name & "Préavis de grève")

-Useful search words to find FRENCH MEDIA REPORT RE UP-COMING & CURRENT TRANSPORT STRIKES: "SNCF, RATP, syndicat, grève, aéroport, transport aérien, pilot". I find strike info from Linternaute.com the most up-to-date/comprehensive and easily readable on Google Translate. English-language media reports usually appear either right before or after strike started.

-Good resource site to find all PARIS PROTEST/DEMONSTRATIONS (with detail/route map/time/meet-up points) -- https://paris.demosphere.net/
*The official approved time/route is typically confirmed the afternoon before!
*The meet-up time/locations ("rendez-vous") info show where/when crowd will start gathering many hours before the official protest, typically confirmed the evening before.
*Yellow Vest protest = "Manifestation à Paris des Gilets jaunes" (usually on Saturdays)
*Anti-pension reform protest = "Manifestation à Paris pour les retraites"

Posted by
7639 posts

Ashley, thank you so much for your and Andrew's heroic efforts in keeping us all updated. I've read your updates every day although I was not traveling at the time.

And thanks for this summary on things to know in advance and to use as work-arounds.

Posted by
25 posts

Thank you, Ashley, for putting together this thoughtful piece. I bookmarked it for future reference.

"Metro 1&14 are strike-proof and most tourist sights are on M1 line. Consider lodging near Metro 1&14"

I stayed at a hotel within walking distance from M14, and made transfers to M1 at the Chatelet station to reach tourist site such as the d'Orsay.

" It is easier for SNCF workers to strike in December/January than other time of year."

So I see. Had I known this, I would have avoided booking myself for a trip in early January. Then again, the weather was mild and the crowds were less. It's a trade off.

I would add one thing: The G7 taxi app works well -- download the app if you do want to use their service; you can book in advance and, for me at least, the driver came through promptly and courteously on a very early morning ride to CDG.

Thanks again, Ashley!

Posted by
575 posts

Ashley, your tireless efforts have helped so many of us, we are grateful for your wisdom and kindness. Bookmarking this post for future reference, and hoping you’ll be heading off to somewhere warm to relax (Sevilla?). Thank you!

Posted by
927 posts

Ashley, thank you so much for all your and Andrew’s vigilant updates. I am bookmarking this topic. Hopefully when I finally travel to France next year I won’t need the info but better to have it and not need it than the opposite. Your efforts to keep us informed are greatly appreciated. Thank you again. Kathy

Posted by
5404 posts

Ashley, it is truly extraordinary and far *above and beyond, * the information and the details and the background that you have taken all throughout the strike (and before and after!) to share with the community to arm them with awareness and options.

The same goes to Andrew.

Hats off to you both — or as the French say: Chapeau!

Posted by
5700 posts

Note also that this last strike was a pickpocket's dream. I even know a local who lost her wallet on a crowded bus and had trouble reporting it because the lines were blocks long at the police station. Crowded situations make it easy for thieves unless you know how to be pickpocket proof. 'being alert' is pretty useless; only stowing the money where thieves cannot get to it will work.

Posted by
10 posts

Hello all,
I read that last week Macron invokes special powers to push through the pension reform without a vote. Any insights into how this may play out over the next few weeks? Parts of our group are scheduled to arrive next week in Paris.

Posted by
6752 posts

We discussed this at dinner last night and expect there will be disruptions. Flying over tomorrow :--)

Posted by
449 posts

Bets, safe trip.

Thanks, Ashley for the updates. Much appreciated.

Posted by
89 posts

The anti-pension-reform unions are naturally upset by the government's surprise move to force through its pension reforms by decree. In February, the coalition of anti-pension-reform unions had announced 3 nationwide strike days in March (3/3, 3/8, 3/31).

*3/3: coalition called for locally-organized mobilization/actions "including strike". As of 3am on 3/3, still no info re the extent of participation and what sectors would be affected.

*3/8: coalition's press release provides no info re what action they might take.

*3/31: 2 media outlets reported (before the pension reform bill was forced thru) that the 3/31 nationwide strike includes transport sectors (SNCF, RATP, air/sea transport, local public transports). This is definitely a strike day, but impacted sectors may change now that the pension reform is a done deal. I am not posting this info on forum until there is concrete confirmation of transport strike from coalition/unions press releases.

News sources:
*https://www.linternaute.com/sortir/magazine/1400252-greve-sncf-et-ratp-nouvelle-mobilisation-mardi-31-mars-2020/
*https://www.cestlagreve.fr/greve/generale-31-mars-2020/

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you AshleyMIA for such detailed and useful information. We'll keep checking since it seems quite volatile right now.