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Political unrest in Paris

The recent news about the riots on May Day have me a bit apprehensive about our choice to visit Paris this summer. I am not usually prone to worrying about such things, and wasn't worried about the yellow vests, but things seem to have escalated this week. I don't tend to watch/read the news on a daily basis, so am wondering if anyone can recommend a specific source for reliable, unbiased information about the situation there. Wondering too if there's any value in having this topic made into a "sticky", given how often it has come up lately.

Thanks.

Posted by
6877 posts

but things seem to have escalated this week.

How so? From what baseline are you measuring the escalation? Keep in mind that May Day may not be representative of other timeframes because it's a public holiday and has specific cultural significance/ tie in to the labor movement (so anyone seeking attention may get more pointed news coverage and affect more disruption).

Posted by
28108 posts

but things seem to have escalated this week.

it has?

I live just across the water and haven't noticed it worse than before

Posted by
314 posts

I understand that the fact that it was May Day likely influenced the numbers, but having the Black Block join in is unnerving, as was the use of tear gas and water canons. I haven't been closely following the yellow vest protests (as I said, I am not usually prone to such worries), but don't think that's been the case up until now.

I hope you're both right and I am worrying needlessly.

Posted by
8293 posts

If you find Paris still tumultuous when you are there, you can if you like, leave the city. Go to Rouen, or Colmar, or even London on the Eurostar.

Posted by
4165 posts

Hi,
I live in Paris, right by the Trocadero, and I am not associated with the tourism industry in any way. Things are actually much quieter now than in the fall of 2018, so I really would not worry. The use of teargas is unfortunately standard practice in French policing, so my only advice would be to steer clear of the protests (especially the areas where they end) if they happen during your stay. Your hotel / accomodation will happily advise. You could also choose not to be in town on Saturdays (which is the day when yellow vest protests take place), going e.g. to Versailles or further afield on that day.

Posted by
7701 posts

I'm not one to minimize the problems caused by the Gilets Jaunes, but the black blocs and casseurs have been part of this since almost the very beginning. I wouldn't say what happened on May Day was an escalation at all — actually a little better contained, if anything. Tear gas and water cannons etc have been a feature of these protests for months, unfortunately.

That probably doesn’t help you with your dilemma much, but just trying to put into context that the actions of the black blocs have actually been much worse in other, previous weeks.

Posted by
12980 posts

Yes... Black Block.

I was in Paris May Day of last year, arrived on the EuroStar that day, and that group were the ones that carried out such violence in Paris and property damage in their targeted area that it was covered on the French news over and over in the next few days.

Of course, that violence took place far from my hotel in Gare du Nord. If you didn't watch the French news, which I always do once getting to the hotel, you would not even know what had happened. Still, the level of violence and property damage took the authorities by surprise, the Mayor came out to see the property damage, etc.

Everything was and looked normal at Nord when I arrived and afterwards.

Posted by
314 posts

Norma, that’s what I was thinking about this morning. Aside from losing out on having our pre paid hotel, we really, really want to be in Paris.

Balso, Kim and Fred: that’s reassuring. Thank you. I’m shocked, though, that tear gas is SOP there. When the police used it at the G20 in Toronto a few years ago, it was historic. I hadn’t thought of our hotel as a good resource for planning where to avoid. We arrive after an overnight flight on a Saturday, so could easily spend the day sleeping if need be.

Posted by
28108 posts

where is your hotel? which arrondissement?

we can tell you how to get there avoiding major problem areas....

Posted by
314 posts

We're staying at Hotel Familia in the 5the, Latin Quarter. Was planning to take the RER from CDG, but if there's something going on, will hire a cab.

Posted by
11450 posts

A) Paris is a huge city - protests are not everywhere

B) take a cab from airport set price will be 55 euros door to door - use only offices taxis from the taxi tank - not from any “ taxi “ driver who approaches you . Have hotels name and full address written down to hand to taxi driver . Easy .

C) I am going to Paris myself - in June - and will be there thru a Saturday - I’m not worried - if I am wandering along and see a protest - I’ll just turn around / the protesters are not hunting down tourists .

Posted by
15 posts

I am flying into Paris in a week (not on a Saturday) so I have been following information to get a sense of the demonstrations, etc. Here are two websites that were suggested to me that I have found very helpful as it is nice to be informed:

https://www.ratp.fr/travaux-manifestations/manifestations
This website will tell you what Metro stations are closed and at what time due to demonstrations. This usually happens on Saturdays and closures are posted by Friday.

https://paris.demosphere.net
This website will list where demonstrations are planned, when, and what arrondissement. There are many more being posted than in April but this does not mean these are all big activities. Just avoid the areas, and if you see a demonstration, head in another direction.

If you are still nervous when you are there, google 'Paris Demonstrations' and if anything big is planned, there will be some mention.

You can most definitely still have a wonderful time.

Posted by
6727 posts

We were there last year for May 1 and were actually walking towards the may day demonstration and encountered the black block literally just minutes from when the water canons and tear gas were deployed and the main body of the demonstration diverted to a bridge down the Seine and around the disturbance. Most of the demonstrators are union members, families with kids in strollers etc etc -- the black block was a small part of it and the police effectively cut them away from the rest of the group. It was quite interesting. It is easy to avoid demonstrations if you wish; there is a huge police presence which itself is a signal if you wish to avoid. I am heading to Paris myself next week and have no qualms at all about 'unrest.' None of these demonstrators have any interest in tourists.

Posted by
12980 posts

@ bxrlover... I checked my notes to be certain that my details above on May Day 2018 in Paris were accurate. The violence on May Day then took place near or at Gare d' Austerlitz. I was at Nord, which is the stop for the RER from Paris CDG. On the EuroStar I got to Nord before the official check-in time but, no problem, checked in anyway, started watching the French news later.

The violence and property damage caused by Black Bloc was all over the French news, obviously, some channels went into more detail.

My hotel is a minute or two from the station, so I don't need to rely on the Metro or taxi (have done that very rare option too ) from Gare du Nord to reach the hotel, deal with traffic jams, or whatever.

As I pointed out, if I had not turned on the TV to watch the French news channels and follow this "stuff," I would not have known any of this happening since I would not have gone out to the Gare d' Austerlitz area.

Nothing was out of the ordinary at Nord or Gare de l'Est, eg, no extra police presence, etc. or elsewhere in Paris for the next few days.

You can tell if it is "normal" or not, whether something is amiss, so to speak.

Posted by
6727 posts

We walked up Italie towards the path of the demonstrations since our metro at Place d'Italie was closed, and encountered the black block at Gare du Austerlitz just before they started causing trouble. They were easy to spot as they were dressed in black and many wore ski masks or balaclavas to hide their faces.

Posted by
12980 posts

"...dressed in black" and with covered faces...sounds like what happened in Oakland a few times several years ago.

Posted by
1159 posts

Yes, Fred -- exactly. (Thugs who take over legitimate protests.)
And easy to avoid if one pays attention.
I'll be in Paris in October for 4 Saturdays and will avoid any area with demonstrations scheduled, possibly doing day trips out of town then.
And bxrlover, the Hotel Famillia is central but out of the way in a non-touristy part of the 5th. It's a good choice.
Enjoy Paris!

Posted by
254 posts

We are in Paris now. We arrived April 25th and will return home tomorrow morning. We're staying near St. Michel-Notre Dame and have seen absolutely no protests during our time here. We've done all the normal tourist things.

Posted by
1810 posts

We arrived May 1st and left today. We stay in the 8th near the St. Augustin church. On May 1st the news was covering the demonstrations, but the route for the protests had been published the day ( or two) before. Rue Royale was closed by Place de la Concorde, so you couldn’t cross the Seine and there were lots of police present, but other than that, you probably wouldn’t have known anything was going on. We were all over the city the next two days, using the metro, etc.. and life was going on as usual.

Posted by
12980 posts

@ SharYn...Very true. Like in Oakland, on May 1 in Paris last year and this year, Black Bloc thugs was present to do mayhem and violence, ie, premeditated violence. Yes, absolutely, one can easily avoid this, lots of clues give it way...noise level, crowds, or even tear gas if you're close enough.

Posted by
314 posts

Thanks again, everyone, for the information. I am excited and looking forward to the trip again with your reassurances.

Posted by
3343 posts

We're staying at Hotel Familia in the 5the, Latin Quarter. Was
planning to take the RER from CDG, but if there's something going on,
will hire a cab.

I stayed in the 5th a few months ago and took the RER B from CDG. No need for a taxi PLUS it's much faster and smarter to take the RER B than waste time and money on a cab no matter what is "going on". Have a super trip!

Posted by
7701 posts

it's much faster and smarter to take the RER B than waste time and money on a cab

As with most things, different methods have advantages for different travelers, there is no “one size fits all.”

Yes, for a solo or couple of travelers who are traveling light and know what they're doing (and depending on what time of day they're going to/from the airport), the RER can be a great option. That doesn't mean a cab is always a waste of money — again, given number in party, mobility issues, location of lodging, baggage and time of arrival — nor certainly of time. There are times when a taxi is much faster indeed than the public transportation options (again, depending on time of day and where you live or are staying).

I don't have a dog in the fight for either a taxi or the RER — in my last four trips to/from CDG I have taken the local bus 351; the Bus Direct to Gare de Lyon plus the local bus to my apartment; a taxi (well really an Uber); and on Monday, the RER. Each has its time and place when it is the preferable option.

Posted by
12980 posts

Hi,

Are you going solo? When I go solo to Paris on the non-stop SFO to Paris CDG flight, I always take the RER to Nord with two pieces of luggage in tow, the spinner at 27 lbs (usually) and lugging that shoulder sack.

When I am going with the Mrs and she has 2 pieces, her spinner and the small day pack I am more apt between the two of us to lazy out by opting for a taxi but we don't, since the Mrs will insist on going by the RER to Nord. We take the RER.

Posted by
776 posts

I always take a taxi. After a long flight from the US, the very last place I want to be is on a train filled to the brim with noisy people who have little idea of where they're going, are jet lagged and confused and have piles of luggage. Dealing with the mess at the Gare du Nord while getting to my #26 bus is another huge no-no for me. The taxi driver speaks quietly or little, gets me to my front door, schleps my luggage to my elevator and stops and waits at my corner grocery while I pick up some items. I've even asked one to open pickle jars that were too difficult for me. That's the service I want.

Posted by
8401 posts

bxrlover, You won’t have to deal with Gare du Nord if you’re staying at Hotel Familia. It’s very easy and very direct for you on the RER. I do both, RER or taxi, depending on how i feel. But i much prefer the RER. Just be very vigilant for very professional pickpockets preying on jet-lagged tourists.

“so you couldn’t cross the Seine”...
at Place de la Concorde. There are many other places to cross so you aren’t totally stuck, just inconvenienced.

Posted by
3343 posts

I always take a taxi. After a long flight from the US, the very last
place I want to be is on a train filled to the brim with noisy people
who have little idea of where they're going, are jet lagged and
confused and have piles of luggage.

The train is the very 1st place we want to be to get into Paris after a flight from JFK as the train car was nearly empty when we boarded as it is the beginning of the route and we were at Luxembourg within 35 minutes and didn't have to sit in the back of a cab in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. That is hell! LOL The train also wasn't packed to the brim. Yes, people were talking on the train but it was normal voice level. I also don't travel with "piles" of luggage as I have a physical disability. Nothing confusing.

We always choose hotels in the city that are within a few minutes' walk to commuter rail to the airport. In Paris that was a boutique hotel by Luxembourg Gardens called Hôtel Le Clos Médicis.

Posted by
12980 posts

The long flight to Paris non-stop is from Calif, SFO or LAX. To Paris I always fly from SFO minus one time from LAX.

That way I can expect it to be ca 11 hours.