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anyone in France now with information/comments about the stikes?

I am due to arrive in Paris on Sunday, October 17 in the AM and take the TGV to Avignon where we will rent a car for about a week before returning to Paris for a few days. My husband wants to cancel our trip because he says that he's reading that this will not be the typical one-day strikes. He feels we're spending too much money to get stuck in an airport or train station or not be able to get where we want to go in Paris. He's also afraid that if we do get to Avignon, the rental company may not have the car we've reserved because of increased demands or people keeping them longer than planned. I must admit, the last thing seems like a possibility.

Posted by
893 posts

The transportation strikes are definitely continuing tomorrow. There will be 30% of flights canceled at CDG (mostly domestic flights or short distance ones), 50% at Orly. 3 out of 4 Metro trains are running, RER A runs as normal and buses are almost normal. So, if you were remaining in Paris, I'd say you have nothing to worry about. But - only one in 5 TGV trains are running. The "word on the street" is that the strikes are running through til the weekend, with some predicting they will run all the way through Toussaint holidays (ending Nov. 3rd.) Is there any chance you could/would rent a car in Paris? That would be my recommendation, rather than cancel.

Posted by
893 posts

Just saw on the news that for TGV it's 1 out of 3 going out of Paris, but 1 out of 5 going between other areas, with some cities not being served at all. Couldn't find mention of Avignon anywhere. They did close the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe today. Don't know about any other places.

Posted by
110 posts

Thanks for your answer, Dina...though its not exactly what I wanted to hear needless to say. We are renting a car in Avignon and I guess I could find out if we could rent it at CDG instead (if there are any left) but I cannot imagine that we would be able to drive all the way to Provence on little (probably no sleep) so were are losing a day right there...but at least we wouldn't have to cancel everything. What about the gas situation? Do you think we will have difficulty getting gas along the autoroutes? I hear there are several refinery strikes going on.

Posted by
110 posts

Well...I just booked a car rental from CDG for the 17th. AutoEurope was kind enough to give me two separate reservations with two different origination sites; CDG and Avignon. If we think we can get the TGV we can cancel the CDG one and vice versa. Getting the car at CDG to drive to Avignon is far from ideal for a few reasons not the least of which, as I said, is that we will be jetlagged and sleep deprived and so we will have to figure out a place to stop, maybe halfway. If anyone has any suggestions for that...great. Dina, do you (or anyone reading this) see any major pitfalls in this plan that I may not be aware of? Other than that we might be paying for two reservations for the 17th (our Avignon reservation requires 48 hours cancellation...which, obviously, we won't be able to give) and the hassle of driving, I still think its better than getting stuck at CDG for who knows how long or..cancelling altogether (still my cranky husband's vote). Once we get to Provence on the 17th or 18th, we will have the car through the 25th when we get to Paris so, hopefully, we won't encounter any problems other than traffic. Again, am I missing potential pitfalls?

Posted by
355 posts

I am in France now and have not been inconvenienced at all by the strike - but I'm not in Paris. I was in Burgundy today and didn't notice much of anything out of the ordinary. The only noticeable closure worked to my advantage. I drove from Beaune to Colmar on the A36 for no charge - the pay stations were closed due to the strike. So, I wouldn't count on the train, but otherwise, I don't think you'll have a problem...

Posted by
12400 posts

The weather is good in Paris right now...16 trips to Europe since 1971 and I never went through the experience of a strike in France. I wish I were in Paris right now!

Posted by
110 posts

Fred, The problem is that if you were in Paris right now, evidently you WOULD see a strike, regardless of your past experience. Its hard to know what it will mean to we tourists. I would be inclined to throw caution to the wind and go; my husband is already researching alternative vacations. He's worried about things like not getting enough gas for the car and getting stuck on the road with a truckers strike or some such thing (does that ever happen). I think he's overthinking it but the some of headlines are very sensational. (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2024898,00.html#ixzz12BYm2Vky) Clearly, this extends further than the typical French strikes everyone talks about and so its hard to know what to think or expect. Reading things like "country paralyzed" and "no end for strikes in sight" conjours up all kinds of images rather disturbing to someone who is going on vacation (a much needed one I might add) to have a carefree adventure. And just to let you know, this is kind of a big deal to us. We are in our 50s. My husband has never traveled overseas and I have been to Paris and London once. Its not easy to cancel but, for us, its not easy to go and risk having a bad time.

Posted by
893 posts

Yes, these strikes are bigger than the normal one day strikes. The French aren't really worried. But, for them, if they can't get to work for a few days, que sera... My husband's colleagues have advised keeping a full tank of gas, but no one seems to think that the government will let there truly be a gas shortage/stoppage. I think a concern for you might be that you don't have a chip & pin credit card that you can use at automated gas stations in the event that some stations are closed or unstaffed. As to whether you cancel or change, well, I guess that depends on your itinerary (does it require much moving around) and whether you and your husband will be able to relax and enjoy your time here, or whether you will be stressed out the whole time with worry over "what if...". Not to mention the financial implications of cancelling/changing. You just have to decide what's important to you. And if the farmers somehow become involved, well, then it's time to worry because I've heard those are the bad strikes - they'll block freeways and roundabouts with their farm equipment, which really can be paralyzing.

Posted by
110 posts

Thanks for the [INVALID], Dina. I just don't know...yesterday we were settled on going and just driving to Provence on Monday, stopping on Sunday after driving a couple of hours,maybe to Auxerre or Beaune (we have plans to stop there on our way from Provence to Normandy) though I think the latter might be too far if we haven't had much sleep. But this fuel shortage thing is obviously of concern since we had planned a to drive a lot. How likely are the farmers to enter this frey? I searched for some information on that but didn't come up with anything. Does that mean they aren't threatening? One more question: do the unmanned gas stations take cash? Is it possible to buy the equivalent of a cash card with the chip and pin?

Posted by
9363 posts

Yes you can buy prepaid cards with chip and pin technology once you get to France but unmanned pumps don't take cash.

Posted by
110 posts

Nancy, do you purchase them at a bank or is it the kind of thing that a shop would carry, like shops here carry, for example, Visa gift cards.

Posted by
3580 posts

There was a rail strike in April when I was in France. I had pre-purchased a train Ticket Paris to Nice. I was able to get on a train traveling at the same time; nobody on the train looked at my ticket. TGV eventually refunded my money, so the trip was free...... As long as the trains are running at all, I won't be too concerned about my upcoming trip Paris to Nice in about 2 weeks, which I have prepurchased a ticket for.....Strikes tend to divide travelers into two groups: those who would rather stay home, and those who confidently travel anyway and make it work for them.....If necessary, I can walk from my hotel in the Marais to Gare de Lyon....

Posted by
893 posts

Lisa - it's unlikely the farmers are going to enter the fray. Those strikes are over things like the price of milk. This should be comforting to you: Instead of gaining momentum, it's been reported that the strikes are losing momentum. There will be increased train service tomorrow as fewer workers are striking. Right now it seems that Saturday should be a telling point. That is the day I would not want to try to be traveling as there are many demonstrations planned. It's not the demonstrations to worry about, but that people leave their jobs to join in. I honestly think you're going to be okay as long as you start searching for a gas station once you get to half a tank (which will give you plenty of time to find one). Most people think it will be weeks before the fuel blockages would start being a huge problem, although I will say the prices seem to have gone up slightly. And if you're worried about driving tired, there are lots of rest stops along the highways, cheap hotels (ie Etap) and lots of Coke! Not to mention the concentrated French coffee.

Posted by
893 posts

Swan - the problem is that when it's reported that 1 in 5 trains is running, that means that some lines aren't running at all. You could indeed run in to trouble if your desintation isn't being serviced. Most of the time there's a train you can take, but bring along plenty of patience and a good book because you could be in for a huge wait. I just really hope this is all over after Saturday.

Posted by
10344 posts

Dina: Thank you for taking the time to keep us up to date on what is actually happening. Your info is very helpful to those of us here who don't know what is happening.

Posted by
3580 posts

I agree that the situation may be worse/different than it was during the strike in April. However, after that experience, I feel confident that I WILL get to Nice on the day of my ticket....I'll try to stay flexible; staying an extra night in Paris couldn't be the worse thing that could happen!

Posted by
1280 posts

I have found this thread to be very interesting and can understand how a newbie traveler to Europe would feel anxious and stressed over the news reports. A vacation is supposed to be relaxing, not stressful. Lisa, I hope you are able to make your trip, or find a solution that you are comfortable with. Please keep us up to date! Dina's reports from the 'scene' are timely and interesting and helpful.

Posted by
7877 posts

Thanks James for your statements that show clarity. People who say it's nothing, don't understand how this situation has been brewing for the past few years. Swan, I think there are a lot more than two types of travelers. My French husband and I discussed Lisa's situation at dinner tonight, and with all our years' experience living in both countries, we agreed she and her husband have a real problem. We don't know what we would do, though we are far from newbies to either Europe or French strikes, from tiny wildcat walkouts to strikes that drag on for weeks and weeks. I don't think being a newbie has anything to do with being concerned about ruining a short, well-deserved vacation. By the way, the tv station France 24, which is playing on my Dish satellite as I write, is showing gas stations in Normandy out of gas because people are lining up for gas. It said 10 out of the 12 refineries in France are on strike and the big problems will begin next week.

Posted by
893 posts

For anyone wanting more information, you can find out more (in English) from the france24 website, or you can google key words in French "Greve" (strike) and/or "Manifestations" (demonstrations) and the date with French spelling of "octobre" and use an online translator. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much press given to the refinery strikes - or at least not as much as is given to the transportation strikes. I do know that France has strategic reserves that they could use to prevent shortages. THey used them in 2005 after Hurriane Katrina interrupted the supply of crude oil. Whether or not they will be used now if needed is anyone's guess. Kathy - I wish you the best in making your difficult decision. Please let us know what you decide. I will keep my fingers crossed that all this is resolved in the upcoming days. Bonne chance et Bonne Courage!

Posted by
893 posts

Lisa - I'm sorry for your loss. And I'm glad you've decided to go. It sounds like you've got a good attitude about it. TGV service is indeed increasing as the transportation strikes have lost some momentum. A lot of people thought Saturday's big demonostrations might be the "last hurrah" but it seems that the unions are not ready to give up yet. As for the fuel situation - well, let's hope they open those reserves if needed. The mid-term school break starts in just over a week and I don't want to cancel my travel plans either.

Posted by
3580 posts

Bets, I didn't use the term "newbie." In fact, inexperienced travelers might ignore the problem and forge ahead. I think it is a valid decision to cancel plans when there is a strike, especially when they are as widespread as recently. My situation is that I have a plane ticket and hotel reservations, plus a railpass. I've traveled under less than optimal conditions before, so feel confident that I will survive the strikes. There is always plan B, plan C, etc.

Posted by
11 posts

I will be curious to know what you decide and how things turn out. I have plans to be in Paris at the end of next week and I have been having the same conversation with myself - do I go forward or cancel the trip and take the financial penalties? It's hard to know.

Posted by
110 posts

I appreciate all your thoughtful suggestions and support. As of this point, we are still planning to go. Last week a very close friend died unexpectedly and far too yound, a sad reminder that life is fragile and it is important to live each moment to its fullest. It is in fact a little difficult to go away in light of our friend's death but his wife is the one urging us on for exactly that reason. So we have a few "Plan Bs" and even "Cs" in place and off we go. It may not be the vacation I painstakingly planned - perhaps we will be "stuck" in Provence and never make it to Normandy or Paris but how bad could being stuck in Provence be? Exactly. It sounds like there are reserves of gas and so, we will most likely not have too much difficulty with that...and we'll see from there. I think that sometimes the best things come from that which is not planned, non? By the way, comments or suggestions are still welcomed. And Dina, if you would continue the updates, that would be great.

Posted by
12574 posts

I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. Assuming the car will have a full tank of gas when you pick it up, could you confine your travels to an area you could reach on that one tank? It might be a fun challenge, although you would have to change some of your destination plans.

Posted by
110 posts

Lola, Thank you for your condolences. It is very sad indeed. As for our trip, I guess we'll will do what we have to do but it sounds as if getting gas will be possible so we will not have to rely on one tank to do the whole trip. As of today, there is no problem in the Avignon area from what I've been told. As I said, I'm sure we will can have a wonderful vacation in Provence though not seeing what we planned to see will be disappointing. I can't deny that. If we can get gas, I don't see any reason why we can't get to Normandy and also to Paris. Also, with respect to getting to Avignon on the TGV, the website says that 2 out of 3 trains are still running. With a "new strike" planned for Tuesday, maybe we'll get lucky on Sunday and get our train to Avignon. Obviously we will have difficulties and disruptions that most people don't have when they go to France. I have no illusions of escaping this. But maybe we'll have some good "war stories."

Posted by
110 posts

Thanks again Dina. Just out of curiosity, you said "lets hope they release the reserves." Actually, it was my understanding that they defintely would. Am I naive to believe that?

Posted by
893 posts

So the news is reporting that they've actually unblocked one of the reserves. So maybe it will all be a moot point soon. (Fingers crossed) From what I've seen, they've authorized only a part of the reserves being released if necessary. There's also talk of importing oil from Germany or Italy. But with 10 of 12 refineries currently shut down, to me it seems like we could still have a few days with dry pumps in places. The closest gas station to me is already out of premium diesel. Possibly because there were so many cars filling up (and I was one of them!)

Posted by
26448 posts

Karen, is that Arles in Provence? If so, I don't remember a lot of viniculture in the flatlands around the Camargue. Also, in late October I would have thought (but don't know for certain - - French residents to chime in here) that the grapes would be harvested and the wine made; the vines a shadow of their former selves.

Posted by
11 posts

Lisa, I hear you. I've been running through all of the different what-ifs also. It is starting to become clear to me that this is just not the time to go. The bad news keeps getting worse - the latest being the fuel pipelines into Paris and airports has been cut by strikers. The situation just seems too volatile and uncertain, and I am not willing to put myself in the middle of it. I also read that the French train authority is recommending that people with plans to travel south postpone their trips. Such a disappointment, but frankly it seems dangerous there right now; at the very least it doesn't sound like much fun. I'd rather wait until things calm down - I hope they do. Best of luck.

Posted by
893 posts

Since I don't know how to edit my previous post, I'll post a new one. "Reserves" is the wrong word for the first sentence. The depots were all blocked and several of them were un-blocked. There was a report recently that all 12 refineries were effected, with 10 shut down, but the government is saying we won't run out of gas. Most people I know have taken to trying to keep their gas tank as full as possible. For those in France tomorrow during the big marches and demonstrations - please be careful! Tensions are definitely mounting. Police have used tear gas on student demonstrations in my area (one of my neighbors was hit with a canister fired on a crowd of high school students - and she was sitting down at the time) and there are news reports showing other protests with the younger crowd that are turning into police altercations. Usually the protests aren't violent, but they usually don't include so many youth either.

Posted by
203 posts

I arrive in France on Tuesday, October 19, the day of a general strike. The plan is to take a train the next day to Arles. Obviously, this was not planned, but tickets are bought and hotel reservations are secured with my credit card. My husband leaves tonight (Friday) for a food show. I dreamt last night about not being able to get to the hotel from the airport. Does anybody have a game plan to suggest?

Posted by
110 posts

So for all my big talk about going despite the obstacles and being open to adventure because life is short and you never know...I'm starting to feel a little bleak. The news of the truckers strike has really set me back. Our plan B, if we couldn't get the TGV to Avignon (Plan A), was to rent a car and drive 1/2 way on Sunday and the rest Monday but I read that the truckers are throwing up roadblocks at midnight so we will probably not be able to get there on Monday. I guess our choices, then, would be either to drive the whole way on Sunday which could be tantamount to suicide since we will have had little to no sleep or...what? Driving it all in one day is plan C and I can't figure out what plan D would be. Our time to decide is running out. The other issue is, what happens if we do get to Avignon. Will there be roadblocks on the secondary roads or just massive traffic because no one can get on the major ones? That doesn't sound like fun. And what about the things that make France...well, France. The markets, for example. I imagine there won't be any if the vendors can't get there. And the restaurants won't be able to get food so they won't open. And we won't be able to drive around the beautiful countryside too much because we may not be able to get gas, may be stuck in major traffic jams, may be blocked altogether. I don't know but I'm suddenly very unsure again.

Posted by
893 posts

Karen - could you please provide more specifics: How and when you're arriving, when and where you were planning on going, etc. Maybe with more info some of us can create some different options for you.

Posted by
203 posts

I arrive at Charles DeGaulle in the late morning of 10/19. On the first night I'll meet my husband at the Hotel Academie 32 Rue Saints Pères, which is near the RER station. My plan was to take the RER to town. The next day we will take the train to Arles, returning on Saturday 10/23. We leave Sunday morning 10/24 to return to Minneapolis. My concern is transportation from the airport to my hotel. I'm also concerned about trains to and from Arles. In Arles we had planned to rent a car one day and see some wine country.

Posted by
203 posts

I agree that it's not the best time to go, but I'm going. It's too difficult and too costly to cancel. And we don't know what it will be like next week. I live in a community that went through a nasty strike that made national news. It was quite easy to avoid all the activity. I just read that today (Friday) only 15% of the trains were NOT running. My husband and his coworkers are already on their way! I'll post tomorrow when I hear from him.

Posted by
110 posts

Karen, I am leaning, once again, toward going as well although my husband is leaning a little bit the other way. I went to the TGV website and was able to find that my train to Avignon on Sunday had indeed been cancelled but I was able to schedule another one. I am assuming that they are scheduling based on the personnel they believe they will have available. Obviously there is no guarantee but it sounds as if they are making an effort to consolidate and control the situation. I realize that getting to Provence is only the beginning but we have two weeks. We're actually trying to do some research about Spain as a possible alternative if we can't stay in France.

Posted by
29 posts

Karen / Lisa and others - if you do go as scheduled and you have a chance, could you keep us updated on your experiences.

My wife and I are scheduled to arrive in Paris a week tomorrow 9Next weekend) and take the TGV to Arles as well.

Would appreciate "on the ground" advice as to whether to continue with our plans or cancel and take a bit of a hit money wise.

Thanks

Gord

Posted by
3580 posts

I have a ticket Paris to Nice bought thru iDTGV for Oct. 29. From there I will travel into Italy and fly home from Rome a few weeks later..... I hope the trains are running the 29th, but I have a plan B. I could stay in Paris a little longer.......DINA: to edit your previous posting just log on to the Helpline and go to the message you want to delete or edit; in the place where it usually says "send private message" it will say "edit/cancel." Click on edit and your posting will convert to a form for adding/subtracting. After you have made your changes, hit edit again and you're done.....Click on "delete" if that's what you want.

Posted by
110 posts

So folks, we will be on our way to France in about 10 hours, as planned. I had the opportunity to communicate with someone living there who has studied the situation and feels that, while it is a serious situation and we most certainly will encounter inconveniences, we won't get "stuck" and will be able to find alternatives if we do. He feels that, except for the demonstrations, the foreign press are overstating much of the chaos and also believes that government is trying to scare people (they are succeeding). And so, ce qui sera, sera. I will certainly post from the from the front lines.
Thank you to all who have helped and supported. Bonne chance to all of you who are going...including me!
Lisa

Posted by
29 posts

The lead story on this morning's CBC National News was confirming that CDG airport only has fuel until Sunday and that planes are only being allowed to land if they have enough fuel onboard to return without having to refuel.

I hope they get this settled in the next couple of days!

Posted by
203 posts

My husband arrived in Paris today and got to his hotel with little difficulty. The RER only went to Gare du Nord, and they took a taxi the rest of the way. He has seen no demonstrations so far. I am still concerned about being able to land at Charles De Gaulle, but I will be flying from Amsterdam. I contacted my hotel, and they can arrange for a driver to pick me up. Since I will be arriving on Tuesday, the day of the big strike, I might do that--even though it will cost 75E.

Posted by
893 posts

Lisa - I'm glad you were able to make a decision that you're comfortable with and I wish you the best with your trip.

I have to admit my attitude is changing and I am becoming a bit worried. Gas stations near me ran out of gas yesterday. There were huge lines to fill up and police had to come direct traffic around the stations. One station started rationing and limiting purchases. People are preparing for the worst at this point, and one of my French friends says she expects the country to be paralyzed soon. My husband keeps saying there's always time to panic so no need to do it now... In addition to the gas problems, police have used tear gas on student demonstrations in my town. I imagine it isn't this way everywhere in France right now, though, and hopefully it is life as normal in most places.

I wish anyone traveling happy travels, but please have a Plan B, C and others to deal with the unexpected during this time. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for speedy resolution.

Posted by
2040 posts

Dina, stay safe! We appreciate you giving us daily updates...thank you!

Posted by
4 posts

I'm another traveler concerned about our first trip to France. Suppose to leave 10/19 and arrived in Paris at 7:30am on 10/20. We are spending 4 days in Paris then renting a car for a week (going to Normandy,Dinan, and Amboise) and returning to Paris for 3 days.We don't know whether to cancel.Don't want to have to deal with demonstaters,garbage in street, waiting for gas etc.Want to sure we can see all the "sight". If we cancel, will lose about $400 and will reschedule in spring. Any thought are appreciated.

Posted by
203 posts

Marge, If all you're going to lose is $400 if you cancel and reschedule AND if having a trip go smoothly is important to you, I would suggest canceling and rescheduling. I'm headed to France tomorrow. My husband is there for a food show. I've already made plans to be gone from work. He has seen no demonstrations or garbage. There was only one snag--the RER did not go the whole way to his stop near the hotel. In my mind, I'm already planning for things not to go on schedule, but I WILL have fun. Have you considered switching your tickets for another destination?

Posted by
11 posts

Marge - I have been dealing with making the exact same decision. Scheduled to arrive in Paris on 10/22. I have finally decided that the risk is just not worth it. If I were there already I'm sure I could deal with it. But given a choice, it is not the time to be there. The situation is just too volatile and difficult to read right now. I'm sure you have seen the reports of isolated violence and property destruction. If things do escalate the problems could become more than just inconveniences. I hate to lose out on some money too, but I want to enjoy my vacation. I'm choosing to reschedule hopefully in the Spring.

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks to everyone for posting their thoughts especially Dina for keeping us updated about the situation in Paris. We are due to arrive in Paris on 10/24 for 5 nights. We aren't so much concerned about the strikes but whether we will be able to return as planned on 10/30. The posting about lack of refueling capabilities at CDG is very concerning. I guess UAL will make the decision for us by either departing as scheduled or not. I'm wondering if anyone knows if the RS tours to Paris are continuing as planned or are they rescheduling? Thanks again Dina

Posted by
1804 posts

Was just reading that armoured vehicle drivers will be joining the strikers and this can affect getting cash out of ATMs.

With the exception of maybe a few Euros left over from a previous trip, I usually get the bulk of my cash once I'm on the ground in Europe, but this is probably one instance where if I knew ahead of time there could be a problem I would go to my local bank and get enough Euros now. Or if I was already in France I would probably estimate how much I needed for the remainder of my trip and quickly take out the daily maximum amounts of cash over the next 1 or 2 days. I'd hate to be staying at some small hotel that has a cash only policy and spend hours trying to find an ATM that still had enough cash stored in it.

Posted by
1 posts

My daughter and I are leaving the 20th for Paris. We have been watching the news and tried to get out of that leg of our flight but not without huge expense. So we are going to go ahead. If we don't make it into Paris we at least have flights out of a different country. We will lose the cost of our hotels and money from our flight from Paris to our other location. It is very upsetting hearing all the news but at this point we are going to go ahead and pray for the best.

Posted by
893 posts

I hate being the bearer of bad news, but the truckers are entering the fray and the reports are that the unions are targeting armored cars. The idea is to cut off deliveries to banks to stock ATMs. Given that we're not a cash-based society anymore, it's hard to believe this would have any paralyzing effects. Especially as most French residents have a Carte Bleue (Debit Card) and a check book. But, to tourists, this could be an inconvenience or worse.

The gas situation is stressful and the only one I'm concerned about at this point. Stations that get gas have long lines and police are there. I have a friend that waited 50 minutes only to have them run out of gas before she got any. This is the one that has the potential to paralyze the country. We joke that we're keeping one car parked with enough gas to get us to the airport. Because if this gets to the point where there's a problem with baguettes and wine - well, we're leaving on the first available flight LOL.

Posted by
1138 posts

We just returned from Paris and were there through Oct 15. The strike on Oct 12 meant we walked to the Monet exhibit from our hotel, rather than take the metro which was no problem. The folowing day we witnessed the big parade of strikers and their orange protest signs, crisscrossing the Seine and tying up traffic for hours. We watched as some of the marchers were drinking openly, reminding us of the American UAW thugs at Chrysler drinking beer and smoking dope on their lunch breaks. Wonderful display of socialists and unions wrecking a society to increase their handouts. Working 35 hours a week, having a 5 Euro freebie handout every day to buy lunch, and having to work to age 62 instead of age 60 must be quite a hardship.... Wonder how long before France topples into the abyss of bankrupcy?

Posted by
33 posts

My husband and I are due to arrive into London November 2. Departing Paris on the 12th of November. We have nothing set in stone as we have been watching/waiting to see how the strikes, etc. unravel. Any thoughts on suggested iteneraries as best to avoid as much hassle as possible? Possibly even changing airports? Any info is appreciated.

Posted by
132 posts

Yes. Laura. We fly out the 30'th to Nuremburg, then make our way to Paris where we plan to spend several days. Then fly home. I assume this will be over by then, but who knows.

If we have to, we cancel our hotel in Paris, head to somewhere like Brussels or Amsterdam, and fly home from there.

Best of luck to everyone in France, or going there soon. Let us know what you can.

Posted by
12400 posts

I rather doubt the country is heading or will head to the "abyss of bankruptcy." It's not like the Club Med countries, Greece and Spain. Out of this unfortunate mess and disruption, don't be surprised if les francais vote the Socialists back into power, thus terminating the present leadership. You don't know les francais.

Posted by
8960 posts

Abyss of bankruptcy sounds about right. After France's dismal performance at the World Cup, and Thiery Henry's defection to NYC, the rioting was inevitable!

Also, I'd like to remind everyone that for the next four years the USA is offically better at soccer than Italy, England, and France.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks for the [INVALID]s from the ground - we arrive on October 30 (starting our trip tomorrow though) and I am very concerned about getting from CDG to the 14th. Hopefully things will be sorted out by then!

Good luck to all traveling in and through France right now!

Posted by
24 posts

I hate to admit as a seasoned traveler, that I'm a bit nervous flying into Paris Saturday 10/23 although we are just connecting to our flight to Spain. We are taking the direct Air France flight from Seattle which was one of the ones reported today that had to leave CDG without a full load of fuel and had to refuel elsewhere on the way back to Seattle. Monitoring the status at Sea-tac and the flight ended up about 5 hours delayed. Fingers crossed that things settle down later this week.

Posted by
41 posts

Hi Lisa et al
We leave this Friday for CDG and then on to Marsielle by air. I have been following this on the news, but this thread is very helpful. Thank-you Dina for your [INVALID]s. This is so helpful and very much appreciated.

Much discussion about the train system but are the domestic flights from CDG still flying? If not, we might also be looking to stay in Paris and forgo our Provence plans.
Judging by Lisa's posts, she must be there now.I hope things are working out for her.
Thanks everyone for you input.
Cathy

Posted by
41 posts

Hi Lisa et al
We leave this Friday for CDG and then on to Marsielle by air. I have been following this on the news, but this thread is very helpful. Thank-you Dina for your [INVALID]s. This is so helpful and very much appreciated.

Much discussion about the train system but are the domestic flights from CDG still flying? If not, we might also be looking to stay in Paris and forgo our Provence plans.
Judging by Lisa's posts, she must be there now.I hope things are working out for her.
Thanks everyone for you input.
Cathy

Posted by
41 posts

I'd like to add another shout out to Dina for her on the spot reporting. It has been very helpful while trying to make decisions, especially since the media coverage is uneven at best. I'm due to fly out early Thursday to Paris and my friend on Friday from another city, which gives us two flights to worry about....We're trying to push the trip out two weeks since she's only got a week of vacation but has some flexibility in exactly when she takes it. Will be interesting to see if we can negotiate the later date with the apartment owner so that we don't lose our deposit.

Posted by
7877 posts

Glad George got to the Monet exhibit without a problem. The situation now is much more serious than last week. It's been brewing since Sarkozy was elected, even before. He's an extremely polarizing personality whose approval rating slid as soon as he took office. The real problem isn't being able to take pre-retirement at 60 instead of 62, it's raising the number of years you have to work from 40 to 42. With people unable to find jobs, higher education taking longer and longer, people can't get their full retirement until they are into their seventies. As for the lunch supplement, it is part of a salary package, either in the form of a voucher which helps cafes, bakeries, and low cost restaurants thrive, or companies have reduced-price cafeterias. Not bad way to be sure employees can eat. The directors often have private chefs cooking for them. I've seen their private company dining rooms. Not on the usual tourist circuit.

Posted by
11 posts

Cathy, you can definitely count on the regional flights being affected to some degree. I read that tomorrow, the day of general strikes, Orly is canceling up to 50% of domestic flights. Traveling out of Paris to anywhere is going to be a challenge. Marseille has been hit hard by other strikes as well and is in worse shape than Paris, I hear, with no garbage being collected. Don't think I would want to be dealing with that.

Posted by
7877 posts

Cathy, Even the Marseillais are holding their noses due to the garbage collectors' strike. You can see it on the Franc 2 television website, the 20h news report. In these large cities, garbage is normally collected daily, so it is bad now but could get much worse. Right now abnormal is the new normal. Neither side is ready to back down or make concessions yet.

Posted by
893 posts

Cathy - How important is it that you get to Marseilles? That is The hardest hit city (as reported) in France right now. There's problems getting gas, not much train service and even garbage collection has been halted for over a week. No one in my part (which is closer to Paris) are venturing down south now. Even business travelers are cancelling their plans.

As for flights - they're still planning on cancelling 30% of flights out of CDG today and tomorrow. Last week they ran out of steam and service was back to normal by Friday. The problem with the 30% is that it's mostly the domestic and short flights that are cancelled (Although with the fuel problems, this could change), so the % of domestic flights cancelled is much higher.

Keep your fingers crossed, but you might be in for some struggles.

Posted by
425 posts

Meanwhile .... down here in "Sleepy Hollow" .... it's a different world. Not a suggestion of rioting in the streets ... no "lines" at the "gas" stations .... :-)

Posted by
31325 posts

Lisa,

Glad to hear that everything has worked out so well for you!

I'm sure you'll enjoy Les Baux, as it has an interesting history. Not sure if they'll offer the Catapult demonstrations at this time of year though? As I recall, there's an AWESOME candy shop at the entrance to the town.

Happy travels!

Posted by
110 posts

Bonjour from amazingly beautiful PROVENCE! As the original poster, I feel a certain obligation to give you updates. So: We arrived 10 minutes early at CDG, on Sunday (17th), got our luggage easily, and proceeded to a mostly empty TGV station with zero difficulty. When we got there we were told that our first train (the earlier one that I originally booked) was cancelled BUT that there was another train that was leaving at the same time and we could take that one. I wondered about our reserved seat and was told that we could probably take any empty seat but we might have to stand. Just what we wanted to hear after not sleeping in almost 24 hours. The reality, however, was that there were so many empty seats that my husband and I sat separately and were able to stretch out and doze a bit. The train arrived 10 minutes early in Avignon. We got our car and drove to our hotel in Saint Remy, arriving by 4 PM. Exactly on schedule. Yesterday, our first full day, we drove back to Avignon to see the town which was lovely and then to the Pont du Gard which was amazing! Truly awesome. It was a chilly but crystal clear, sunny day and driving through the south of France countryside, we both felt as if we were living our France dreams. This morning, (the day of the general strike) we filled up our tank at the same time that a fuel truck was delivering more gas and we're off to Les Baux and Arles for day. Hopefully we won't encounter any roadblocks. So far, so good, non? We shall see what ensues. Taking it one day at a time and definitely not taking anything for granted. More later.

Posted by
11 posts

Lisa - Very happy to hear that you have had a wonderful start to your vacation! Hope it continues!

Posted by
893 posts

Lisa - so glad to hear things are going well for you. Some areas are clearly harder hit than others. Gas is starting to flow by me, although the lines are still long and reports are 1/3 of stations are dry. Now the truckers are slowing down the traffic on the autoroutes north of Paris, they're blocking distribution centers, and people near me are kinda expecting the situation to worsen. (In typical French fashion, they are very matter-of-fact about it.) There have been numerous comparisons to 1995 when the strikes went 3 weeks.

Vendor participation at my local marché was down 50% this morning, but I don't know if that's directly related to the fuel/trucking situation, or because the high school students planned another demonstration and no one will go near them anymore. Students at one local high school started a fire at their school on Friday. I walked by my high school today and they have literally chain and padlocked the school to keep students who are there from leaving to join in any potential mayhem. At least no one is burning tires in my area and our garbage is getting picked up!

The "good news" is that no one believes Al-Qaeda could even mobilize an attack with all the transportation problems. At least we're able to laugh off the threats.

I just turned on the news and there are student demonstrations going on in Paris and several universities are closed. There's been an increase in violence associated with the youth demonstrations lately. Hopefully this large one will stay calm.

Tomorrow is the big vote on the changes. We are all anxiously awaiting the outcome.

Posted by
110 posts

Hi all. Just a quick post to let you know that all remains quiet on the Provence front. No sign whatsoever of the strike in from St Remy to Les Baux to Arles and back. Trucks delivered gas, buses were running,road crews were working. I guess nobody around here got the memo. We have one more day in Provence before we leave for Beaune and then for the big drive to Normandy...the one that takes us by Paris. That's scheduled for Friday. I guess we'll have to see what's going on. Perhaps we can take a train there instead of drive if the roads are clogged. Or maybe we'll go back to Provence...it is so beautiful here I keep crying. Corny but true.

Posted by
29 posts

Lisa - thank you.

We are scheduled to fly to Paris on Saturday and take the TGV to Arles for 4 or 5 days (already have reserved the tickets) next Tuesday.

i was thinking of biting the bullet, cutting our loses and cancelling the trip - but you've made me reconsider. Going to wait until tomorrow now and see how the vote goes and the afternmath.

Glad you're having a great trip!!!!!!!!

Posted by
41 posts

Hi Gordon
We are in exactly the same situation but in Ontario. Four of us are scheduled to fly to CDG and on to Marseille this Friday into Saturday and talked with KLM today to cancel. They suggested we wait until tmw.
Lisa - I have been following your posts with 'selfish' interest. We plan to spend one week in Provence and using a rental car, will visit the various towns. Thank you so much for taking the time to keep us informed.
Hope the rest of your vacation as a wonderful as the start.
Cathy

Posted by
111 posts

I must say as I was reading Lisa's original post I was rooting for her and her husband to go. I'm glad things are working out. I think having back up plans and trying to be flexible- not always possible on a trip- is the best way to enjoy your vacation with less stress.

good luck to everyone.

Posted by
203 posts

I arrived at Charles DeGaulle yesterday 10/19 on the day of the big strike. The plane arrived on time and I had few problems getting to the hotel. I took the Air France bus to Gare Lyon (passing lots of cars lined up at the Petrol stations.) Intended to take the taxi the rest of the way, but they wouldn't take me because of the blockades for the demonstrations. I took the Metro instead. My husband had a bad experience with the RER trains from CDG into the city. It was packed and my husband's co-worker fainted. Strikers had blocked the track and the riders were packed. Because we must be back at work on Monday, we're staying in Paris and cancelled our hotel in Provence with no penalty...another day. We are going to have a good trip.

Posted by
3580 posts

This thread is helpful. If the Metro is running, I'll take my chances and spend a couple of days in Paris next week. I have a train reservation for Paris to Nice the 29th. So far, it seems that enough trains are running that I will probably catch a train that day. I know that during strikes passengers may need to take an alternate train. I will avoid Marseilles, if possible.

Posted by
977 posts

Lisa great to read your posts. We were in Avignon, Arles and Les Beaux 12 days ago. It brought a tear to me eye reading your post. What a stunningly beautiful part of the world. All the best for the remainder of your trip. Whilst most of us would feel very hesitant about travelling in this situation, who said 'How Can you Discover New Oceans, If You Are Too Afraid To Leave the Shore' (might have been Lisa).

Posted by
11 posts

I, too, am happy that Lisa's vacation is going well and that their decision to go was a good one for them. However, I don't think that those people who decide to cancel or postpone their trip in light of the events taking place are somehow lacking a sense of adventure. In the best of circumstances, the decision to travel to another country requires an adventurous spirit. There is always the possibility of difficulties arising. But there is a difference between being adventurous and being reckless. You can't discount the seriousness of the protests and the potential for violence. I don't think it is necessary to knowingly put oneself in a volatile environment to prove oneself adventuresome.

Posted by
11 posts

I'm in Provence right now - Arles, actually. The only pain in the behind with the strike (here, anyways) is the regular cancellation of trains. The good thing is, the SCNF people have been posting their schedule for the next day on the evening prior. ie for my travel on Friday, I'm going to the train station before close on Thursday evening to see what the schedule will be and what time I'll be able to take a train. Also: the buses are still running. It's a pain, but for short distances, it's manageable.

The strike started about six days after I arrived, so I'm desperately trying to not let it wreck my (much waited and saved for) trip to Provence.

Good luck all!

Posted by
893 posts

Glad things are good in Provence. The media seems to agree that 1/3 of France is affected. 1/3 of Gas stations are dry, 1/3 of departments, etc.

Things remain status quo for me here. Long lines for the pumps and students skipping school. At least no one is looting or burning tires in the streets, and my garbage is getting picked up regularly.

The new news is the blocking of airports. Mostly the smaller airports. Some interesting pictures of these appearing now as there are literally large crowds standing in the streets. CDG had not been blocked as of a couple hours ago. (That place is massive - it would take a ton of people to really block it)

Still hoping for quick resolution, but expecting this to drag on for a while.

Posted by
203 posts

Today in Paris we are not being affected by the strikes. However, this might have been the year to meet him somewhere else after the food show. Given the difficulties with the gasoline supply and trains, this is not the time to plan to see the whole country. That being said, I am glad that Lisas trip is going well.

Posted by
197 posts

Anything new? We're arriving on Monday, October 25, plan to train it to Caen on Tuesday, and return to Paris on October 30. Thanks for the help!

Posted by
143 posts

Pam S - We just got back from taking the train from Paris to and from Bayeux, which is one stop past Caen. I checked the SNCF website and there are about 16 trains daily from Paris to Caen. So even if some are not running (and some were not running this week), you should be able to get to Caen with minimal disruption. Also, be aware that SNCF knows at 5 p.m. which trains will and will not be canceled the next day. So you can either go on the SNCF website or call them or go to the local train station after 5 to see what's running the next day. Also be aware that some seats are reserved on the trains from Paris to Caen. There are card-holders above the seats, and if a seat is reserved, there is a name on a card in the holder. So don't sit in reserved seats or you'll lose them and might have to stand (like we did!). But the good news is that you can stand if you can't find a seat. Usually, as the train passes more stops, it will clear out and you can find a seat. The trip to Caen from Paris St. Lazare will take about 2 years. The trains we took were very nice - nicer than the Thalys high-speed trains we took between Amsterdam and Paris. If you're going to Bayeux and have any questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them. Hope you enjoy your trip.

Posted by
203 posts

The strife over pension reform has not affected our visit to Paris the last few days. We leave tomorrow. The previous poster asked if the problems will be over in early November. Who knows? I believe that the unions have scheduled a strike day in November. I am glad that we stayed in Paris. We have seen interesting sites and eaten great food. We love the Rue Cler neighborhood. Renting a car could have been stressful, given the fuel situation. My advice is to go if you'd be out a lot of money if you cancelled. If I were planning a trip at present, I would think, "why not go somewhere I haven't been" instead.

Posted by
893 posts

Laura - No clue when this will end. The unions have already called for two more "days of action" for the 28th of October and Nov. 6th. Right now things should be pretty calm because it's the Toussaint holidays and students are on break for 10 days. People want to spend time with their families. There's been a lot of media stuff urging people to go ahead and take the vacations they'd planned and they've stated that they're making it a priority to get gas to the stations along the autoroutes (at least for this weekend).

The vote passed, and luckily there wasn't any rioting or escalations. The refinery workers aren't back to work and now reports are trickling out that there's disruption in electricity (and possibly the natural gas lines) and they're importing it from other countries.

IMO getting gas is still the biggest issue. IF you're not driving or not going towards MArseille, it seems like things could be ok.

Posted by
334 posts

We will be traveling in November and have not booked a hotel in Paris. Should I be looking for a hotel within walking distance from the Rossybus or Air France Bus drop off locations in Paris due to the strikes? Are these buses running without disruption?

Posted by
689 posts

Rebecca, how funny, I was on your inbound flight from CDG to Seattle! I raced to make my connection in CDG from Spain then we sat..and sat...and sat waiting for a fuel truck. They announced we'd have to stop in Manchester to fuel up, but just before we pushed off the gentleman across the aisle from me had a stroke! So there was the whole ordeal of the poor guy being treated by a dr on board, then CDG doctors coming and taking him away, then removing his luggage.

I have to say, the Air France flight crew remained so composed and so gracious during everything. We were all very impressed. I went up to get some water from business class while the stroke victime was being treated in the coach galley and rather than turn me away, the steward said, would you like some coffee or tea too?

Posted by
203 posts

I took the Air France bus into town last Tuesday 10/18, the day of the big strike. It did not go into central Paris because of the demonstrations. I went the rest of the way to my hotel (near Montparnasse) by Metro.

Posted by
9110 posts

I left Paris yesterday after a couple of days during the so-called problems. Everything was unremarkable, except for a bit of trash on the steets. You could walk through or around the business without a problem. Interestingly, some protestors wore white sneakers.

Posted by
41 posts

Hi
We are in Provence having arrived from Canada via CDG on Saturday and then on to Marseille via Air France. We rented a car and have been driving around Provence. Today was the first day that we saw gas stations without gas. We were able to fill up at a station with a three car wait. Otherwise ,this area is not I impacted by the demonstrations and strikes.

Cathy

Posted by
7877 posts

An addition to Christy's comment on the professionalism of the Air France crew during the on-board crisis: I always remember how the crew got everyone evacuated from that plane in Montreal which went off the runway, just before the plane caught fire. There too the crew was noted for its professionalism and cool during the disaster.

Posted by
893 posts

Strikes are dying down (yea!). Several refineries have voted to go back to work. The trash problem in Marseilles is being dealt with (but trash is becoming a problem in Paris as they're on day 6 of an incinerator strikes). Most trains are running (although I can't speak for tomorrow's proposed strike day). Getting gas is still difficult, but we've been able to get it within a day of wanting it.

I think it's a combination of the holidays and the passage of the new law beinga foregone conclusion at this point. That doesn't mean everyone's happy and there won't be strikes in the future, but for now things have definitely calmed down.

Posted by
1 posts

At the moment I'm scheduled for a weekend in Paris Nov 5-7. I really hope plans for the Nov. 6th strike are less zealous at that point. I've been to Paris frequently, but I'm taking a first-timer with me and I'd like her first trip to Paris to be a positive one!

Posted by
33 posts

Anyone have an [INVALID] for today? I'm hearing about some different issues (Eiffel tower closed) possible attacks, from the US news?