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Paris Strikes and Work Stoppages

We are heading to Paris in mid-July, and are wondering what to expect. Last month there were a number of news stories about strikes that shut down museums, transportation, and trash collection. Any insights as to how things are trending now? Or were they truly as bad as the news stories indicated? Or how one can find out what the status of work stoppages is at the present? Or what's likely to happen in the upcoming few weeks?

Any thoughts, observations, or insights would be most welcome.

Posted by
11507 posts

We were in Paris june2nd to june 8th.

The Louvre and Orsay were closed for 4 days , but that was becasue of the high river water( they were not flooded it was becuase they wanted to move some pieces of art that were stored in basement storage to higher floors , just as a precaution). It had nothing to do with strikes or work stoppages.

Even during transportation strikes the Rer still runs , just less frequently , to airports .

Most strikes are short and dates are set in advance.

Honestly our visit was fine. North American media is alarmist.

Locals can give you a heads up on strikes , here , or on the tripadvisor.com Paris forums.

Go and have fun!

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for the perspective, Pat! We are now much less spun up.

And thanks for the website, Robert. Makes labor disputes look like weather!

Posted by
346 posts

We are here now and have not yet been impacted by any of it. We have seen a few drunks urinating in public, but you can see that after any SEC football game. I did get an email from Versailles today saying our visit there which is scheduled for Tuesday will be impacted by a strike, but I don't have details yet.

Posted by
7209 posts

Just expect strikes, slowdowns, stop works, closures, inconveniences - then you'll know you're in France. You just can't count on anything be up and running because it's just not the French way. I was just there about a week and a half ago, and went through these same things. A children's hospital was even vandalized during on the "protests" while I was there. Our prepurchased tickets to the Eiffel Tower were no good because the ET workers decided to strike that day. Maybe your visit will go as planned, or maybe not.

Posted by
1097 posts

Ditto Tim's comment. We had pre-purchased ET tickets for this morning but today was a strike day too. Said they'd refund our money and if we want to go another day, we have to buy new tickets.
We did not encounter the same mob scene Tim described a few days ago, though. Area is fenced off but not particularly crowded.

Posted by
9870 posts

That's because there were no Euro Cup matches played today.

On a day when a EuroCup match is being played, people are there in the Fan Zone to watch the match(es).

No match = no spectators.

Posted by
346 posts

We missed our apartment tour at Versailles this morning at 9:30 due to the strike, but got really great treatment by the staff. (See my trip report if you want the details)

Posted by
1806 posts

Just returned from 2 weeks and the media makes it sound pretty dire. Because we had read about potential train strikes, we did take a few additional precautions in advance this time. Typically, I am all about taking the RER from CDG but this time we booked a private car service in case the RER wasn't running as we anticipated long lines for the Opera bus and taxis. Our cost was 70 Euro (not much more than a standard taxi ride from CDG to Paris).

There had been talk about some of the taxi drivers having a temporary strike but we saw plenty on the streets and lined up at taxi stands. If we didn't feel like taking the Metro, we just used Uber as they pick up anywhere.

Although the Seine was still high and flooding along the lower walkway in some sections, other sections were open to runners, walkers and those on bikes. The Louvre and Orsay were back to regular operating hours. Most of the sightseeing boats were running and we took a sunset cruise on Vedettes du Pont Neuf last Wednesday. The only impact was they could not run the boat past Notre Dame so they went out a little further on the other side. We did go past the statue of the Zouave that had been photographed up to his waist in the water during the height of the floods - I snapped a photo of him as our boat went past and I could see his feet. Provided there aren't any more significant and extended periods of heavy rain, you should be fine to have full access to the Seine by the time you show up.

I thought the city was actually pretty clean considering some issues with trash workers striking. This past week we were in Paris all day on Tuesday with both Fete de la Musique running at the same time as UEFA tournament. As we made our way back to our apartment in the Marais at 3AM on Wednesday morning, the streets were littered with trash from all the drinking going on across town. We went to sleep for a few hours, woke up to go out for 9AM and by that time everything was cleaned up in the neighborhood and you would not have known a big festival had just taken place.

We made a number of trips outside of Paris. In anticipation of possible train strikes, we got an international driver's license so we could rent a car if necessary even though we were also concerned about the gas shortages that had been reported prior to our leaving. Trains were all running and every one of them was on time. We didn't book our tickets online in advance of our trip. Sure, we could have saved a few more Euro that way, but we figured it was less of a hassle having to get ticket refunds so we just winged it and purchased train tickets the day before at the SNCF sales offices scattered around the city. If you feel it is necessary to save an extra couple of Euro and want to book train tickets in advance of your trip, just purchase them directly from SNCF and do not go through a 3rd party vendor like RailEurope in case you need to get a refund because of a strike.

My friends who had never been to Versailles booked a private car and guide for an all day tour that was to include skip the line entry to the Palace plus a picnic and biking in the gardens. They received an email the day before letting them know of a potential strike at Versailles for their scheduled day. They had initially been booked to leave Paris at 9AM but had to wait for a text message from the guide who said they wouldn't know for sure about the strike until 11AM. They were still able to go, but wound up not being able to leave for Versailles until 12PM. They had a fantastic time because the Palace and grounds were virtually empty since all the big bus tours had to cancel their trips that day so it was really only those who had booked private tours along with those who took the RER on their own around mid-day.

We saw a few demonstrations but they were very peaceful and we saw plenty of police and security details all over the city. Expect similar if you are there during Bastille Day.

Posted by
2147 posts

Thanks to everyone who provided detailed information about what's really going on in Paris. It's difficult to sort through all the information/mis-information in the media and it's great that you folks took time to clue us in. So interesting to read about your experiences!

Posted by
1097 posts

We arrived Monday. Other than Eiffel Tower strike yesterday and armed police on the street, I haven't seen anything different than any other time. Having a great time.

Posted by
2112 posts

We returned last night and luckily we had no problem with any of our reservations and strikes. There were large crowds at and near the ET and demonstrations resulting in lots of trash! The Euro fans were loud and drunk in the cafes, subways, and on the streets.

Posted by
1806 posts

"Euro fans were loud and drunk" is a bit of a generalization. We had tickets and went to one of the games this past week and there are plenty of fans not exhibiting that kind of behavior outside of the stadium walls. If you are coming after July 10th the UEFA games will be a non-issue.

Even those groups you do encounter on the streets that are tipsy (and most are relatively small groups) are generally very easy to spot from a distance and easy to avoid. Not all of the soccer fans turn into "hooligans" when drunk. Some are actually quite amusing (see the YouTube videos of Swedish fans singing ABBA's "Dancing Queen" or the singing duel between Northern Ireland and Poland that ended with handshakes and hugs all around). And yes, there is more trash around the Eiffel Tower at present because the UEFA Fan Zone happens to be positioned right on the lawn but I was in the Fan Zone several times to watch some other matches on the big screen and despite the number of people down there, I was not wading through trash and they were still keeping up with most of it.

Posted by
8230 posts

The standard taxi to our lodging in Paris is 50 Euro from CDG; 70 doesn't seem like a bargain to me especially since there are always plenty of taxis at CDG.

Posted by
44 posts

We just returned from France last week. We did see some of the strikers marching when we arrived at CDG - but it was very orderly (and loud). The only problem we had was with the TGV at the beginning of the trip in early June. However, we received updates from SNCF via email the day before so we knew what to expect and how to check. We had heard about challenges buying gasoline - we never encountered that either.

Posted by
7 posts

We were in Paris from June 14 to June 20. We stayed near the Louvre and didn't see any loud Euro fans. The city was clean and surprisingly not too crowded. We went to the Eiffel Tower on June 15 and there was no line for walking up nor taking the elevator. Before going there we researched the bus routes just in case the flood affects the metro, and we ended up taking the bus a lot since it's more scenic. We did see a lot of armed police and soldiers, and we heard sirens all the time. Don't hestitate to ask the police questions. I approached them a few times when I heard sirens going by, and they were all very friendly and provided me with the information.

Enjoy your stay in Paris.

Posted by
2466 posts

There are new flat fees for taxis to and from CDG and Orly. All rates are good for 4 passengers - if there are additional passengers, each will pay 4 EU in addition to the flat rate. There are no more fees for luggage in the trunk. You can tip the driver if he helps with your luggage, but don't go overboard - 5 EU is plenty.
For CDG:
55 EU if going to an address on the Left Bank
50 EU if going to an address on the Right Bank
For Orly
30 EU - Left Bank
35 EU - Right Bank

I'm sure there are some taxi drivers taking advantage of people who aren't aware of these changes, yet.

Posted by
1806 posts

Yes, Janet. I realize the standard taxi rate is 50 Euro vs a private driver who took us from CDG for 70 Euro; however, the OP has concerns about how strikes might affect his trip. To me, paying an extra 20 Euro for the guarantee I wasn't going to stand in an extremely lengthy taxi queue at CDG if the RER workers were striking or the train line wasn't running due to the river flooding was a worthwhile investment of an extra 20 Euro and certainly wasn't going to bust my budget.