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The past 5 weeks in France

Just a quick note regarding our travels over the past 5 weeks in France. We had just picked up our rental car in the Loire Valley the day the stikes began ( November 17). We encountered the Gilets Jaunes first in Dinan, Brittany. We were delayed in the major roundabouts, but were able to get through. As the week progressed, there were more yellow vests not only in the roundabouts, but folks were showing their solidarity by displaying their yellow vests in the dashboard of their cars. We had to change our travel plans and lost our reservation at Mt. St Michel since the roads leading to Mt. St Michel were closed. (the hotel did not refund, planning on disputing ) Traveling up to Normandie, then to Caen, we used Waze to avoid the major roads, which were closed. While in Bayeaux, we witnessed a mini protest with at least a dozen large tractors driving down the tiny cobblestone streets! Quite a sight! We were very happy to drop off our rental car in Caen on the 24 of November , then relying on trains. We arrived in Paris and stayed in the Maris district. We were here for the 2 big Saturday protests. December 1, the protests were localized around the Champs Elysess, so there were plenty of other sights for us to see. Last Saturday, the 8 December, when everything was shut, many of the shops in the Maris and all the banks were boarded up. We visited the Pere Lachaise Cemetery (the only sight not closed) (it happened to be Jim Morrison's birthday!) We could hear the cacophony of the protests below, a little harrowing! It was a little tricky returning to Maris since the metro stations were closed and the roads were closed so we could not take the bus. Also the Velib (bike rental program) had closed many of their stations due to the protests).Interestingly, the neighborhood around the Pere Lachaise cemetery, it was business as usual, shops were open, cafes filled with folks. We arrived safely in the Maris about 5pm. Soon, we heard a marching band and chanting! There was a large group of very jovial protesters headed down our street! I think there were part of the Enviromental Protest which was happening that day which the press did not cover.
To sum up: We were fortunate enough to have the luxury of time, so a day "lost" was no big deal. We witnessed history here in France which is something you cannot put a price on. As RS says: BE FLEXIBLE IN YOUR PLANS! ( and IMHO, spend as much time as possible!) Although we had to endure a rainstorm here and there , traveling off season is the only way to go. No lines ANYWHERE! and the locals were all very friendly and helpful.
Merci Beaucoup and Via La France!

Posted by
6788 posts

Good report, thank you.

I note many travelers posting their worries about "riots" and questioning whether they should cancel their trips to France over fears of "lack of security". To me, such drastic reactions seem wildly overblown, but I'm not there (although I've been there and elsewhere in Europe around demonstrations before). You just were.

I take it that although you were inconvenienced a few times due to road and transit closures, you never felt that you were in any danger - correct? Just wanted to get a recent eyewitness report that clarifies that (for those overreacting and thinking about canceling their trips).

Posted by
5 posts

The only time were were slightly concerned was when we were in the Pere LaChaise Cemetery, hearing all the commotion in the streets below. Since we had just walked through the surrounding neighborhoods, and there were no boarded up shops, and folks were going about their business, we were reasonably certain we were safe. Also the news had reported, and as we had witnessed the days leading up to the 8 December protests, there was a large presence of police and military personal patrolling the neighborhoods.

Posted by
12172 posts

Wow, that's by far the worst I've heard of (at least as long as I've been paying attention). I tend to assume the press sensationalizes the story and shows only the worst locations. My experience with protests and riots in Europe is they are isolated and people generally know when and where so they can avoid the area.

I was in Madrid in 2012. There were riots but they were localized and easy to avoid. I don't think I've heard of protests that wide spread since the Velvet Revolution.

Posted by
960 posts

Posts have been edited and removed. As a reminder, this is not a place to discuss politics.

Thank you.