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Well there go my Thursday appointments…and yours

One of many protest gatherings at the Place d’Italie last year

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go…except on Thursday. In fact, I won’t be going anywhere at all. Not when there’s a huge strike announced for the day. Sure, there will be almost 100% bus and tram service, about 60% metro service, and 30% train service, but I’d rather not deal with the angry commuters (those who have to go to work, strike or no strike). The unions claim it will be the biggest strike since 1995 (which was the biggest strike since 1969).

There will be flight delays and cancellations at both Paris airports. All of the public service and private sector workers have been called to strike, so no point in going to the post office or the social security office or to the bank. Because even if they’re open, and even if the workers aren’t on strike, they may not be able to get to work. Museums may have to close off wings if there aren’t enough employees present.

I don’t have any tours Thursday (sigh of relief), but I did plan on taking my car back in to have the turn signals fixed before my big road trip next month. Usually this isn’t a big, taking the car 15 minutes outside the center of Paris to a speedy service station where they take everyone without reservations. But there will be deadlocked traffic (those who live outside Paris will drive into the city instead of taking the trains), possibly road blocks from big marches in my neighborhood (the Place d’Italie being one of the big rally points for protests), and likely only half — if any — of the employees at the garage even working.So why bother trying?

I’m going to stay in, maybe work on my guidebook updates or cook up a stew with the leftover veggies from juicing. If you have to go out, be prepared for long waits for the metro, crowded cars, and the possibility of wherever you’re going being closed. Wear comfy shoes and walk if you can bear the cold.  At least Fashion Week will be over so you can curl up at home or in your hotel with the latest fashion magazines. And don’t fret too much. One day is not a big deal for a strike. After all, the whole island of Guadeloupe has been on strike for a week and the massive storm that ravaged the southwest of France has left 600,000 people in that region without electricity, phones, or in many cases running water since Saturday.

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  • Welcome to France, Gina, lol! Yes, the strikes are almost always announced in advance (aside from rare occasions when a metro or train driver is attacked, then sometimes they go on strike on that line right away). If you follow the French press you will hear about the strikes, usually a week in advance (TV, radio, newspapers, including the free "Direct Soir" and "Direct Matin" distributed outside the metro stations each day). For specific news of transport strikes you can also check on the RATP website (www.ratp.fr) or call their free info line: 0800 15 11 11. For the trains check SNCF.com or call the free number 0805 90 36 35 (for the Transilien call 0805 700 805).

  • Thanks Heather! So I’ve just moved to Paris…do they always announce the strikes ahead of time so I can plan around them? How do I find out? And how do I find out which metro lines are running during any given strike? Thanks again!

  • Long waits, crowded carriages, grumpy passengers. Sounds like business as usual in Melbourne. I’ll trade you our 40-degree-celcius-plus heatwave for the Paris cold…I like the suggestions of coping with the strikes. A good magazine or three and the couch. Best.

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