by Mia Taylor
Last updated: 3:44 PM ET, Fri March 24, 2023
As labor protests and strikes worsen throughout France, Britain's King Charles III has officially cancelled his trip to the country. But what does the situation on the ground look like for the average tourist? And should you scrap plans to visit the country also?
News reports emerging from France describe a scene that includes varying degrees of impact and disruption. One report from earlier this week described piles of trash being set on fire around Paris, armed police out in force and the noise of fire engine sirens being heard throughout the night. There were also clashes between protesters and police near the Place de la Concorde.
The same news outlet described large smoke plumes being visible across the city skyline from rooftop terraces where travelers gather to take in the views.
NPR reported more than 300 demonstrations taking place just yesterday, which attracted more than one million people nationwide.
Additional protests are planned for the coming days and weeks in response to the recent pension and retirement age reforms enacted by French President Emmanuel Macron. The country's retirement age to receive full pension is being raised from 62 to 64 years old. While the new law is not yet in force, leading labor unions have promised the demonstrations and protests will not stop until Macron scraps the changes.
Primary protest locations
The primary locations being impacted by the protests are Paris, and other major cities such as Lyon, Marseille, Lille, Bordeaux, and Rennes, according to CNN. All of these cities have already been impacted by protests and demonstrations.
Importantly, the unions organizing such events have been announcing strikes a few days in advance. The next one is scheduled for March 28. However, there are other spontaneous demonstrations taking place throughout cities that are not part of the scheduled events.
Popular rural destinations like the French Riviera, have not been impacted thus far. It's also worth noting that the U.S. has not issued any formal guidance on traveling to France as of yet. The current status the US State Department has set for France is Level 2. That means "Exercise increased caution" due to the ongoing threat of terrorism and civil unrest. That status for the country was set back in October 2022 and has not changed.
While CNN reported that most long-haul flights remained unaffected by the labor actions thus far that may soon change. According to NPR, France's Civil Aviation Authority has requested the cancellation of about one-third of flights at Paris' secondary airport, Orly, on Sunday and about 20 percent cancelled on Monday. However, operations at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport remain unchanged. Additionally, short-haul and domestic flights have been impacted somewhat..
Those who have plans to travel by train or other forms of public transportation in the country, should be prepared to face the most significant impacts.
According to CNN, on strike days that take place once or twice a week, the Paris Metro is unlikely to run at all. What's more, about 25 percent of inter-city high-speed trains are altogether canceled as well.
If cycling and walking are a possibility for your plans, that may be your best bet, the outlet reports. Those who have rented cars are also unlikely to feel impacts, as highways have thus far not been impacted by the strikes.
For the most part, tourist attractions are open, according to CNN. The exception to this rule is strike days. During the most recent labor actions both the Eiffel Tower and Versailles were closed. Do yourself a favor and check the attraction website for any place you hope to visit to find out what the latest status may be.
With union worker strikes impacting locations throughout Europe in recent months, it's best to confirm the current conditions for any locations you plan to visit.
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