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Paris Riots

I'm heading to Paris on December 9th for 3 days with my wife and 6 year old son and just watched ABC news coverage regarding the Paris riot and state of emergency. Are other travelers canceling trips to Paris? Is the city not safe? Will the riots continue next weekend?

I purchased travel insurance and wondering if I should use it to cancel this trip now.

Are we over reacting?

Posted by
162 posts

Well riots are unpredictable, so there's no telling what will be happening next weekend. Situation bears watching for sure. Cancelling would be up to you. Good luck.

Posted by
4370 posts

I have an acquaintance in Paris right now. I will see if he responds to facebook messages.

Posted by
5752 posts

Yes, you are WAY over-reacting.

Unless you are actively seeking out a riot, in fact seeking out being right in the middle of one, you will be fine. Riots are hard to miss, they're very obvious from quite a distance away, and easy to identify (believe me, I've been in a few - but only because I wanted to participate). Honestly, riots don't sneak up on you and jump out from behind a tree, asking if you've lost a golden ring or warning you that a pigeon has crapped on your shoulder.

Just use common sense - eg, if you don't feel like participating in a riot, and you see one happening in the distance, walk away from it, not towards the middle of it. That's pretty much all you need to know.

Go, enjoy France, stop freaking out. It's not your riot (unless you really want it to be).

Posted by
4370 posts

I was about 7 when my family(3 kids) was visiting Michigan for most of the summer during the Detroit riots. We were in Detroit a few times and we were quite safe because my parents kept abreast of the situation and avoided particular areas. I do remember my dad discussing in an age appropriate way (I was the oldest) what was going on. He explained that people were unhappy because they were not being treated fairly, and sometimes people feel like they aren't being heard and get angry. He said if we ended up seeing anything of the riots, they had nothing to do with us. That people were not angry with our family. I would still go on your trip but I would give your son just a bit of a heads up in case you were to observe something and reassure him that you will be careful and he will be safe.

Posted by
1292 posts

It is normal to ask this question, especially while traveling with your family. I encourage you to stay with your travel plans and realize riots are not traps. I am speaking with the experience of witnessing a planned march in Barcelona evolve into a series of minor clashes and being on a business trip to Portland when a world conference lead to major acts of violence. In all cases I was able to turn a corner and move away from the action. Paris is a large city offering many opportunities to explore and the best antidote for avoiding potential conflict is to be aware of your surroundings and move away from conflict.
Enjoy a great journey!

Posted by
334 posts

No I would not cancel
Once Again; Make sure you sign up with STEP, Smart Traveler Enrollment Program . A service of the bureau of consular affairs the USA state department. It has been of great value to me with information about issues in the country I’m traveling. It notified me by email of demonstrations location, upcoming hurricanes, forest fires and worker strikes; the most recent was a taxi strike in Portugal in September. Can’t stress this program enough.

Posted by
4370 posts

I have used STEP as well, and highly recommend it. You will get some warnings (most won't pertain specifically to you) and in the off chance that something occurs, the state department has information needed to try to locate U.S. citizens.

Posted by
3 posts

You might check to see if the riots are taking place in parts of the city you planned to visit. If so, why not pick a different place to visit. Personally, I wouldn’t go in case there are transit or airport strikes that pop up, but that’s just me. Paris has a lot to offer; parts of it are beautiful and not to be missed.

Posted by
4370 posts

This is what my friend said:

Juli, just got here last night and I'm down by Notre Dame and nothing out of the ordinary here. I asked the host at my VRBO and she said it was mostly up by the Champs Elysee and Arc de Triomphe. I'm pretty comfortable in foreign cities and I'm not that concerned. Just going to watch where the action is and stay away. Biggest concern I have is coming out of a metro station and finding myself in the middle of something but I guess I can always go right back down the rabbit hole :) This is France, there's always something going on.

Posted by
2927 posts

My daughter's Junior Year Abroad was in Paris in 2006. Car burnings, riots, etc. The Sorbonne was closed down for about 6 weeks, if I recall correctly. We went to visit her during this time, as no school meant more time. We didn't see much action, but my daughter often walked out in the morning and saw evidence of car fires, etc. Basically, if you see a riot up ahead, I guess, go in a different direction or watch at a distance. This is life in action. That's why I travel. It didn't interfere with any of our activities. If you want completely insulated, only beautiful with no energy, then I guess you'll want to rethink your travels. I want the energy of many peoples and life, at home and abroad.

Posted by
3343 posts

It is disgusting that they have been looting businesses, setting fires and violently attacking people. This crap has happened in the US like in Baltimore so we in the US can't say that we haven't seen this kind of savagery here. This garbage has GOT to stop. That all said, if this had happened even a few days prior to my recent trip to Paris, I'd still go.

Hopefully the police are incarcerating these savages and that they will be prosecuted and imprisoned to the fullest extent of the law.

Posted by
5697 posts

Also, unless you bought "cancel for any reason" travel insurance, you might be surprised (not pleasantly) by what is NOT a covered reason for reimbursement.

Posted by
430 posts

I have lived in and near cities where rioting was taking place. It makes for high TV news ratings but has a very localized impact on every day life. As the others here have stated, it's pretty easy to keep your distance and go about your business.
The current Paris riots will probably make it advisable to stay well away from the Arc de Triomphe, but my guess is that they won't effect anything else you want to do in Paris.
Of course be careful, pay attention, but go on your vacation. At any rate, I suspect that Laura B is right on the money about what your insurance covers - or doesn't.

Edit: Hmm, have read comments under Les gilets jaunes. Could be my experience isn't applicable in the current environment in France. I'd still go, though.

Posted by
381 posts

Last night I was talking to a friend who mentioned that she had been in Paris for three weeks during their 1968 unrest and it didn't really affect her visit. They just tried to be aware of where the demonstrations or riots were and go elsewhere.

One thing not noted in previous comments is that a number of Metro stations and museums were closed last Saturday because of the demonstrations.

Also, it looks like most of the demonstrators are coming from outside of Paris and doing their thing only on weekends.

Keep informed and talk to the staff at your hotel and you should be OK. It's not like terrorism where they're blowing up airports and targeting tourists.

Posted by
3343 posts

This savage rioting of violence, looting, smashing windows, fires, defacing the Arc de Triomphe with graffiti, etc stems from the imposed carbon taxes imposed on the people starting January 1 by the French government and thus the higher cost of living.

"France's Macron learns the hard way: green taxes carry political risks

PARIS (Reuters) - When Emmanuel Macron rose to power, he put the
environment at the heart of his agenda. Eighteen months later, anger
over those policies has stoked protests that are a huge challenge for
the French president.

Rioters torched cars and buildings in central Paris on Saturday
following two weeks of protests caused partly by higher fuel taxes
which Macron says are needed to fight climate change. Some protesters
called for him to resign...."

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-france-protests/frances-macron-learns-the-hard-way-green-taxes-carry-political-risks-idUSKBN1O10AQ

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/03/france-fuel-protests-heres-whats-happening-and-why-it-matters.html

http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-eco/2018/12/03/97002-20181203FILWWW00326-gilets-jaunes-la-cpme-reclame-l-annulation-de-la-hausse-de-la-taxe-sur-les-carburants.php . (Use Google Chrome for English translation)

Posted by
2333 posts

There are reports that roads in some areas are being blocked. Thus, I would determine if problems in transportation are developing. To the best of my knowledge, there are no rail strikes. So, if you are traveling outside of Paris, you may wish to travel by train. At least determine if roads are being blocked.

Posted by
776 posts

In case you missed the post below from another thread on this forum.
I think people have no idea of the plight of those living in rural France and consequently are unsympathetic. With the depopulation of rural France, public support of services such as post offices, hospitals, access to Drs. and even grocery shopping has decreased making these low paid workers even more reliant on cars as there is no public transportation in these areas. The NYTimes article referred to talks a lot about the plight of rural dwellers. (I'm over my paywall limit so I can't link) The article is well worth reading and illustrates why most French support these protests no matter the resulting chaos. Something is very wrong in this society and the unfair distribution of the fuel tax burden is only a symptom.

"To expand on andrew’s point, the first thing Macron did was abolish the impôt sur la fortune—or tax on the wealthiest, 3.2 billion euros worth, equal to a million euros savings each for the country’s richest citizens. Now he’s filling the coffers on the backs of people without funds. He’s also expressed views about people as losers. Boum, as we say in French.
Roslyn recommended an excellent article in today’s New York Times about the common folks who are participating. (Yellow Vests Riot in Paris, But Their Anger is Rooted Deep in France)
Don’t miss the photo taken in the main room of a French countryside house that will show you how people live in the countryside: wood stove, checkered oilcloth on the table, old, sparse, dark. I’ve been in many homes like this over the years; it’s fairly typical of a poor family in the provinces. It ain’t rue Cler.
"emphasized text

Posted by
4370 posts

My friend in Paris just sent a photo of ambulance workers who have joined in. He was concerned when he saw all the workers until he realized that they were part of the protestors. I believe in free speech and PEACEFUL protests. I'm pretty bothered that ambulance workers would join in uniformed. NOT COOL. A friend of mine had plans to go to Paris right after the nightclub terrorist attacks. She asked me if she should still go and my response was YES. I felt it would be safer with more of a police presence. I also suggested if it ended up that Paris didn't feel right or it was just too much, she could get on a train and go somewhere else in France. She ended up going with her college aged children and they had a wonderful time and made a lot of great memories

Posted by
776 posts

" I believe in free speech and PEACEFUL protests."

Unfortunately peaceful protests are easy to ignore, violent ones are not. Witness today's decision to delay the fuel tax.

Posted by
308 posts

I personally would still go. My sister and I stumbled across a riot in Budapest in October 2006. It was not a huge inconvenience to us at all. Instead of taking the public transportation that was blocked by the riot police, we walked a little further to our destination. It was also a HUGE learning experience for us and a way to connect with locals.

Having said that, I would definitely keep an eye on the news every day before going out. You may need to be flexible with your schedule.

Posted by
1125 posts

Heck, Americans start riots, I mean celebrations gone wrong, when their sporting teams win or loose. In 2016 I watched as the police in Paris were setting up barricades for a scheduled demonstration. They were detouring folks that did not want to participate or be caught up in it.

Posted by
5 posts

If understanding correctly, with the president change. It looks like the riots will be stopping for the next few months? I’m heading out on Saturday.

Posted by
776 posts

The president hasn't changed although the yellow jackets/vests would like that. I think you typoed.

Do not count on these protests being over. They are about much more than fuel tax. Follow the newspapers, web and TV. France 24 is good if you don't read or speak French

Posted by
81 posts

I think France already has some of the highest taxes in the EU and they are adding in more? Fuel taxes end up hurting the poor and rural more than the rich but I guess the French leadership figured they would just take it. You can't just steal from the people and expect them to lie down forever. I'm sure there are more issues that are being rolled into this but what does this signal for more carbon taxes and such measures in other parts of the EU and the world?

Personally I wouldn't mind being in Paris or other parts of France right now talking to people. Though preferably not in the middle of a riot...

Posted by
36 posts

I’ll soon be leaving to spend a month in Paris, not cancelling my trip, reading reading France24 and USEmbassy updates and signed up for alerts, and STEP program in case the riots find me. This is the trip of a lifetime for me. A part of me views these protests as an historic event. I feel for those whose lives are most affected by fuel prices. Peaceful protest has turned into violent destructive protest, but it is getting some response from Macron. Enough? Who knows? Cancelling your trip will hurt the economy, put people out of work, close down the Christmas markets, etc. Paris is a huge city... Sign me, I’m still going.

Posted by
4370 posts

Good for you, Nina. Also, keep in mind that trains serve France well. If Paris or some other area gets to be too much. Hop on a train and go to an area that's calmer. There are great places an hour train ride or less from Paris.

Posted by
768 posts

I've cleaned out a number of side discussions. This thread probably needs more moderation, but that's more time than it's worth. Otherwise I'd delete the thread. I'd rather not do that as many of the comments are important here and will be helpful to others.

Please remember that we are accepting of comments that involve politics only if it directly relates to the travel topic at hand. This is not a forum for discussing political topics. Thanks in advance for keeping our forum on topic (guideline #1).