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Problems in France

My husband and I are planning on going to Paris and surrounding areas at the end of May, 2023. We’re concerned about all the problems France is currently experiencing - I.e. protests, etc. Our flights are booked into and out of Charles Degaulle. Can anyone recommend safe alternatives to go to, rather than staying in France? Is anyone experiencing the same anxiety?

Posted by
87 posts

If you scroll through this forum, you will see many posts from people wondering the same thing, and responses from those on the ground in France saying that there has been very little disruption to their trips, and they have easily avoided protests, e.g., this one:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/strikes-and-demonstrations-in-paris

We are not making any changes to our plans to travel to France in June. Know that the strike days have been announced in advance and it seems that there have not been widespread disruptions to train schedules and tourist attractions. I don't think you need feel unsafe--perhaps inconvenienced if, say, your particular train got cancelled, or an attraction were closed on the day you'd planned to go there--but not unsafe.

Posted by
14269 posts

I’ve woken up dreadfully early and am now lying in bed in my Paris hotel scrolling on my phone. I’ve been here since Friday. I’m an older woman traveling solo. I live in Idaho so it’s not like I’ve got a lot of street smarts. It’s not my first time in Paris. I’ve covered 2 areas - Ile de la Cite and part of the Saint-Germain-des-Pres area along with the neighborhood where my hotel is located.

No protesters seen either in the areas Ive walked or my cab route from the station. I don’t think there are any protests scheduled yet.

Garbage being picked up on the regular schedule.

Lots of tourists.

Food is about 1/4 to 1/3 higher than a year ago.

I’m having a wonderful time!!

Posted by
52 posts

We are going 18th May, family of 5, not planning on changing it :)

Posted by
502 posts

I’m leaving on Monday next week and don’t plan to worry or cancel my trip. If I can survive in the US, I could manage anywhere. Ex teacher here. That’s a hint!

Posted by
8236 posts

We have been here a week. So far the only disruption is that we had to work around a metro situation where a demonstration had closed down one route for about an hour -- we just took metros to work around the blocked area. It was annoying and we were a bit late for dinner with friends.

Seriously, demonstrations are the French national sport; we have never been in Paris without encountering some. They are well managed, there is always police presence if only to facilitate the marches and they are not risky for tourists. If they make you nervous, if you see one, walk the other way. If something is closed, make new plans.

Posted by
10358 posts

A tiny clarification: demonstrators don't shut down Metro stations along a demonstration route, but the police close them for safety and security.

We're all different when it comes to anxiety and if this is what pushes your buttons, and other people's testimony about safety doesn't reassure you, then you could go to Switzerland or Scandinavia for a more relaxing trip. Paris is already a high-energy environment, so only you can measure.

I've been in Paris for many demonstrations over the decades. It doesn't produce anxiety; other things in life do.

Posted by
8 posts

I have been in Paris since March 30th. There have been two strikes since I’ve been here. I am staying next to Invalides where one of the strikes began and their demonstration route took them in the opposite direction of our location. We neither heard nor saw anything of the demonstrators other than their approaching the starting point of the demonstration. As others have said, it may cause an inconvenience if the RER is striking on the day you plan to go to Versailles or another area outside of Paris or briefly be impacted if the metro is momentarily shutdown. If you see or hear unrest and are mobile, you can easily go the other direction. If you don’t speak French and are staying in a hotel rather than renting an apartment, you’ll have the advantage of being able to ask hotel staff if there is anything you should know or places to avoid. However, it also depends on your anxiety level or tolerance for possible last minute changes that should help you determine if you should come. Paris (and France in general) are always keen on demonstrating. It is often a healthy way to show their disapproval rather than sitting in front of the TV with clenched fists and feeling helpless:)

Posted by
141 posts

We just returned from Paris on Saturday. We were there for one protest - the only thing I saw closed that day was the Eiffel Tower. I was able to find the march route and we just avoided it and had a great day doing what we had planned. The next day was the court decision regarding the retirement age. There were a few small protests that day but we didn’t even know they were happening until the next day when I was looking for news.
We left knowing what was going on but trusted the many reports from here and other France groups and went without anxiety.

Posted by
14580 posts

Regardless of the decision taken on Friday by the Constitutional Council, the CGT had said the strikes and protest would continue. That shows they weren't going to be demoralised the negative decision and are still unflagging in their opposition.

Thanks to this negative decision, it just provides more incentive to pour into the streets on 1 May. Bravo ! On CNN a French political science professor was interviewed in which he pointed out for the first time in the Fifth Republic the anger is directed at Macron personally in addition to his 28% approval rating. In light of the course of modern French history this personal "colere" (the word you see on the protest banners) is not an enviable position to be in.

Given the historical context, I expect this will still be going on when I get there the end of May, would be surprise if the active opposition stops by then.

Posted by
10358 posts

That’s your opinion Fred after watching CNN.
I see and hear a march every week as it forms at the end of my block here in France. The first few weeks it took 1.5 hours to pass my building. Last week it took 10 minutes. I have a different view Fred and I advise you, as well as those who become skittish, to turn off your TVs. The end game is to sell advertising, so if they can impress you with a few isolated clickbait photos, they will. And you then generalize it as the true situation on the ground.
It’s the same thing viewing the US from Europe with all the mass shootings. I don’t know one person who wants to visit nowadays. But has anyone reading this had personal experience...yet.

Posted by
37 posts

My partner and I are here in Paris and have been for a week. On Thursday, we actually went down to the demonstration at Place de Bastille to see for ourselves what was happening. We were about a block and a half away at the afternoon rally/« manifestation » and then got politely moved about a half block further away. The gendarmerie are extremely professional — and are out in dramatic presence for these events. It was all very safe for us watching, and frankly for the protesters as well. Key points:
-Media hype this up shockingly and in my mind, unprofessionally.
-The protests are completely localized and there was no evidence of bleed-over into other areas. At all.
-Gendarmerie mean business, control events, and control the periphery politely and firmly. They don’t want tourists like us or other French gawkers getting injured, or, more probably, involved. I was hugely impressed with what I observed of the Gendarmes.
-Normal vibe. One museum, disappointingly, had two floors shut down, but was otherwise operating at full power, and the Place de Vosges was locked. Metro ran fine, all shops open for business, and people were enjoying their apéros outside, 1 1/2 blocks from the demonstrators and the tear gas at Place de Bastille. Love it!
We thoroughly enjoyed our day, and if my partner and I hadn’t been near the Place de Vosges/Place de Bastille that day, would not have known about the demonstration until we turned on BFM TV at our hotel. So… Pas de problème!

Posted by
8236 posts

Bets, demonstrators were on the tracks last night and definitely shut down the metro line we were on -- the line couldn't role till the people were cleared off the tracks and so we had to do a work around. When a demonstration is planned -- or for the May 1 demonstration/parade, the police shut down stations along the route -- but last Saturday night it was simply a demonstration bringing the metro line to a halt for an hour or so.

Posted by
10358 posts

It takes only one person to shut the tracks. BTW I'd expect some more stuff tonight after the President's short speech.

But this demonstrates exactly what you had said to be ready to take a different route, take a bus or cab, find a workaround. Whether the OP would face inconveniences at the end of May remains to be seen. The OP would know whether these inconveniences would be anxiety provoking.

Posted by
14580 posts

@ Bets ...I will be glad that when I am there at the end of May, these events will still be going on, to which I say...bravo ! Those inconveniences I might encounter or will traveling there are minor, basically immaterial, as respects to the entire historical and social picture, looking forward to seeing more pouring into the streets on May 1. CNN is not the only source for my information, the various PBS stations I follow too. Watching the TV provides the incentive for being there.

Re: " skittish" going over now.....I know French just old enough to have participated in '68 that if I were to say I was " skittish " being in Paris now, they would hit back with the question: " what are afraid of? " They are right