2016 Strikes in Paris: What Tourists Need to Know

Information on Transport, Safety, and More

Workers strike on Place de la Republique in Paris in 2016, protesting against the prospect of relaxed labor laws
Owen Franken/Corbis Images via Getty Images News

 From taxi drivers to garbage collectors, teachers and air traffic controllers, French workers have been striking en masse over the past few months in Paris and the rest of the country-- primarily to protest a proposed changes to labor laws that would make it easier to fire employees. 

The strikes, which have periodically erupted in the city over the past several months, most recently on Tuesday, June 14th, have made headlines due to occasionally violent clashes between police and protestors, and to unfortunate incidents of vandalism around the capital. On Tuesday, between 80,000 and one million people flooded the streets of Paris to take part in the protests.

While the vast majority were peaceful, aggressive clashes between some participants and riot police resulted in injuries on both sides, and there were reports of vandals breaking windows, setting fire to cars, and even vandalizing a children's hospital, to the outrage of many. 

Tensions have been especially high in June due to security concerns raised by the influx of football fans in the capital for the Euro 2016 match-- and the city continues to be on high alert following the tragic terrorist attacks of November 2015 (see info for tourists here)

How Might The Strikes Affect Your Trip?

Amid what appears to be a chaotic situation in the capital, visitors may be unsettled by these events-- especially because some are still feeling shaken by safety concerns in the wake of the November attacks. But aside from some unpleasant delays, the strikes shouldn't be a worry for tourists. Read on to find out more about how transportation and other services have been affected in recent months, and check back here for updates as the situation evolves. 

How is Public Transportation in Paris Being Affected? 

Several metro and RER (suburban commuter line) trains saw a slowdown during the major strike of June 14th, but traffic is again normal on all lines as of Wednesday June 15th. Check back here for updates on future striking action in the city, or visit the official public transportation authority's site in English (RATP).

Air and National Rail Disruptions

While some major delays and disruptions in airports and on France's national train and high-speed rail (TGV) network have affected visitors in recent months, the situation is currently all but normal. Despite a strike among workers at Air France, flights were operating at 80% capacity around the major strikes of June 14th.

Four out of five air traffic controllers' unions were also on strike on the 14th, but air traffic at Paris' major airports, include Roissy Charles de Gaulle, was returning to normal as of Wednesday the 15th.

Meanwhile, France's national rail company (SNCF) has seen some major disruptions in recent months due to union strikes against the labor reforms: in early June, almost half of high-speed trains in France were cancelled due to striking action, severely affecting travellers. 

Further strikes are likely in coming months. Find out whether your train travels are likely to be affected by visiting the official SNCF rail authority page (in English).

Eurostar Services Largely Unaffected

Eurostar services (high-speed trains to Paris from London and Brussels) have so far remained largely unaffected by the strikes. 

FOR UP-TO-DATE INFO ON AIR AND RAIL: See this helpful page at AngloInfo for quick links to up-to-date information on how strikes are currently affecting air and rail traffic in France. 

Taxi Strikes in the French Capital

Taxi workers in Paris have been periodically striking in large numbers this year, in response to both the government's proposed labor reforms and to the increasing presence of rideshare services such as Uber in the French capital.

If you're planning on using taxis to get around the city or to get from the airport to Paris, do know that services have not been at their optimal levels in recent months-- and taxi workers are currently promising more striking action in the weeks to come. This doesn't, however, mean it will be impossible or even difficult to find a taxi on most days. Try to keep informed of striking actions in Paris to find out whether taxi services may be affected during your trip.

Closures of Popular Tourist Attractions

The Eiffel Tower was closed on Tuesday, June 14th due to striking action among some of its employees, but re-opened on Wednesday the 15th. Otherwise, it's largely been business as usual for the tourism industry in the French capital.

Should Tourists be Concerned About Safety During the Strikes?

In a word, no. You may have seen disturbing images on the news of violent clashes between strikers and police/security forces, and there have admittedly been some unsettling instances of violence and disruption on both sides. Unfortunately, some protestors have also acted out by vandalizing property or public buildings. 

However, assuming you don't plan to join the strikes yourself, you have nothing to worry about as a tourist-- aside perhaps having to endure a few unpleasant delays in the metro and trains, or the sight and unpleasant stench of garbage piled up outside of that historic cafe in St-Germain-des-Pres (garbage collectors have also been striking recently in certain areas of the French capital). 

I nevertheless recommend staying away from major rallies on strike days in the capital this year: while they can make for an intriguing spectacle, it's probably best to stay clear, in light of the unfortunate episodes of violence and aggression that have occurred in some of them this year. 

In Short? 

Striking action in Paris and the rest of France is likely to continue in 2016, and may well affect visitors. Stay informed by visiting some of the information sites listed above, and your trip will hopefully not be too adversely affected.

Knowledge is always empowering: make sure to read our complete guide to staying safe in Paris, and you may also want to bookmark our tips on avoiding pickpockets in the French capital. 

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