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Strikes in France – what to know

France strikes - taken from The Economist (link below)

France strikes – taken from The Economist (link below)

Essential reading from The Economist (May 27)
Article here focuses on all that is going on in France.

Update May 27 from US Embassy Paris:

Full link to travel advisory

“…The following strikes have been announced for the week of May 30:

Rail – The national unions which represents rail workers renewed their call for strikes limiting rail services along the TVG, RER and SNCF networks. An “unlimited strike” is scheduled to start at 9 am on Tuesday, May 31 for a period of at least 24 hours.

Paris-area Public Transportation – The union representing the Paris metro area transportation (RATP) has called for an “unlimited strike” starting on June 2 of all public transportation services, including the Paris metro, buses, and RER trains.

Air – Air traffic controllers have also called for strikes Friday, June 3 to Sunday, June 5 which could result in delays or cancellations of flights originating in France…”

By now, you have probably heard that France has been undergoing rounds of strikes and protests over the past couple months. This is in large part due to proposed labor reforms. Of course most of you know that strikes and public outcry are a way of life in France that most people tend to accept with a shrug.

The Local France has an interesting piece on this cultural reality, as well as countless publications in the past including BBC and Slate. Even The Onion got in on the humor with a fake French protest image back in 2005.

But this time seems to be different: these are arguably the strikes with the most impact in 20 years. Taken with the ongoing “state of emergency” that France has put into place since the November terrorist attacks (and have extended), France has a palpable undercurrent of tension.

For now, what you should know about the strikes: 
These strikes are affecting transportation, oil refineries, nuclear power stations and more throughout the country. The BBC outlines the main points of the proposed reforms here along with more coverage of the action. I’ve laid those out at the end of this post.

The Economist also has an interesting piece on the strikes – anticipating action throughout the summer.

Another useful guide is from the great folks at The Local. Local resources in France for tracking news updates include the SNCF website, which currently states that traffic should start resuming to normal May 27 but to keep abreast of updates. Their travel agency Voyages SNCF also has a helpful resource for train travel updates.

You should also stay abreast of airline travel through your local airline. Aéroports de Paris does have general updates as well for Paris Orly and Paris CDG traffic.

BFM TV, Libération, France 24 and Le Monde are also great resources.

At the time of this being published, there have been clashes reported by protestors in Paris, Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux and other major cities. Your local embassy should be the best resource for expat nationals living and traveling in France for up to date security information. The US Embassy, for example, has contact info here and updates on their Twitter feed.

Want to brush up on your French travel vocabulary? Try About.com or FluentU.

If you have travel plans to France or are thinking of moving there in the coming year, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so – just do your research and travel intelligently. I have lived in France for 30% of my entire life at different times as an intern, student, grad student, English teacher and employee. It is a place that is dear to me, and I would love for you to also have those life-changing experiences.

Travel smartly, safely and avoid protest areas. Take a lesson from my French friends and enjoy life, drink some wine and sit back to see how this evolves. C’est la vie, enfin.

French labour reform bill – main points

  • The 35-hour week remains in place, but as an average. Firms can negotiate with local trade unions on more or fewer hours from week to week, up to a maximum of 46 hours
  • Firms are given greater freedom to reduce pay
  • The law eases conditions for laying off workers, strongly regulated in France. It is hoped companies will take on more people if they know they can shed jobs in case of a downturn
  • Employers given more leeway to negotiate holidays and special leave, such as maternity or for getting married. These are currently also heavily regulated

France train network has national strikes (again) April 26th

French unions that bring together employees of the rail system, SNCF, is staging strikes around the country today. This is the third such strikes in the past two months. Paris’ RER network is also impacted.

More info here in French. A message from the US State Department’s Paris Embassy is below as well. You can follow news in English on France 24 here. They are running until 8am local time on Wednesday 4/27.

Consult your travel agency or SNCF’s train tracking site for news on delays or cancellations to your travel plans.

France 24 said:

Only half of high-speed TGV services will be running, SNCF said in a statement, along with just 40 percent of all regional TER trains.

Just one in three of SNCF’s Intercités trains will run, while half of all trains on the Paris region’s Transilien network will be cancelled.

RER rail services in the capital are also set to be significantly disrupted, with one train in two running on the RER line B, one in three on line C and D and two in three on line E. RER line A is set to run as normal.

International services are set to be largely unaffected though night trains will not be running, SNCF told the AFP news. It advised passengers to avoid travel or seek alternatives for their journeys wherever possible.

The U.S. Embassy in France informs U.S. citizens that several national unions representing SNCF train and service employees intend to hold a nationwide strike on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 to protest proposed changes to working conditions. Getting through train stations could take longer than usual and lines at automated machines are likely to be long. There could be resulting cancellations and delays to scheduled trains.

Travelers are advised to verify the status of their trains prior to arriving at the station and to allow extra time.

Please consult these websites for information on your train the day of the strike:

www.infolignes.fr

http://www.sncf.com/fr/prevision-trafic

www.sncf.com/en/passengers

http://www.sncf.com/en/news/timetables-traffic-updates

Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.

Brussels under attack: What you should know

If you somehow haven’t heard yet, ISIS (Daesh) terrorists carried out bombings at Brussels International Airport and a metro station downtown near the EU HQ on March 22. There are thought to be 34+ deaths and 200+ injured, with those tolls probably to rise as forensics teams struggle to identify victims.

Flights have been canceled in and out of Brussels, as well as Eurostar trains. Brussels metro system is also shut down. Contact your travel company for information on your individual plans. Belgian authorities are calling for vigilance.

You can see up-to-date coverage on media including France 24, BBC, NY Times, Economist, Flanders News (local) and CNN. I also recommend following the news on Twitter. For those of you who are American, I suggested registering for the US State Department travel alerts & warnings and their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The UK’s Foreign Ministry has a similar service, as does Australia.  Belgium’s Foreign Ministry and that of France are also great resources.

In addition to social  media outreach, diplomatic letters of support were sent the world over including from the US and France.

My thoughts and prayers with the families and victims of Brussels. I personally have over 20 friends there and luckily they are accounted for. I’ve been there several times and each time the Belgian people are very welcoming. My heart goes out to you.

 

 

FranceBelgiumSolidarity2016

France facing significant strikes this week, will impact train travel

French labor unions and student groups are on strike around France right now thru March 10th. This is impacting travel throughout the country. Make sure to check SNCF’s time tracking website for updates to train schedules as well as the Paris transit system RATP.

France24 has great coverage of this here and the US State Department has issued the travel warning below for expats.

Bon courage, les amies, les amis.

SNCF_strike_March2016

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Strikes in France on March 8-10, 2016

On March 8 -10, 2016, members of several unions and student groups plan both strikes and protests all across France. These protests and strike actions are likely to make travel and/or local transport (including movement by private vehicle or taxi) difficult.

Nationwide, the unions that represent 70% of SNCF employees have called on their employees to strike; local media report that this is the first time since June 2013 that the four biggest unions have been unified in their intention to strike, suggesting that the participation rate could be very high and disruption accordingly significant.

In Paris, unions representing local transport authority RATP will also be striking, leading to possible slowdowns on the Metro, buses, and RER.

In separate actions, several groups plan to converge on the Place de la République in Paris at 2 pm from various assembly points across the city to protest the government’s consideration of reforms to the labor laws.

Unions have called on their members to meet around Paris metro station ‘Ecole Militaire’ to march on the MEDEF headquarters in the 7th arrondissement on avenue Bosquet. From there, they intend to head to the Labor Ministry on rue de Grenelle before heading for the Place de la République.

Student and young people’s groups have called on their participants to gather at Place de la Nation in the east of the city before marching to République.

Please note that the actual strike plans filed by the transport workers’ unions designate a start of the action at 8 pm Tuesday night, March 8, and a finish Thursday morning, March 10, at about 8 am.

Please consult various sources of local information for updates, including local TV stations and websites (to include BFMTV, Le Parisien, and France24), as well as:

RATP – Paris local transport system – for information on metros, buses, and RER lines:

http://www.ratp.fr/informer/trafic/trafic.php

Transilien – for Paris region transport:

http://www.transilien.com/info-trafic/temps-reel

SNCF – for national and regional rail travel:
http://www.sncf.com/fr/horaires-info-trafic

Twitter feeds for particular metro and/or RER line(s) are always very helpful, as are the Twitter feeds of the Paris Prefecture de Police (@prefpolice) and Aéroports de Paris (@AeroportsParis), which also provides information on traffic conditions to/from CDG and Orly airports.

The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that demonstrations and large events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational. Avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. Large public gatherings can affect all major incoming arteries to the city in which they occur. Demonstrations in one city have the potential to lead to additional public rallies or demonstrations in other locations around the city and country.

We strongly encourage U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are therefore urged to access local media to stay abreast of developments, avoid demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.

For further information:

  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in France, located at 4, Avenue Gabriel, Paris,
    +33 (1) 43 12 22 22, 9:00am – 6:00pmMonday through Friday.
    After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +33 (1) 43 12 22 22.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

CNN profiles benefits of Lyon over Paris

I love Paris and Lyon, having lived in both cities. I know the advantages and disadvantages that come with everyday living there. Paris retains an aura of excitement for some, but Lyon certainly has a lot to offer in terms of quality of life for French and expats, on a smaller scale. Lyon remains relatively unknown, though, compared to its big brother Paris.

Which is why I’m glad to see CNN recently publish a profile of the city and its advantages.

You can read the article here, titled “8 ways Lyon outshines Paris”. Be sure to scroll through the images and captions as well as the article itself. I personally think Notre Dame de Paris is more impressive (at least in history) than the one in Lyon, but besides that I agree that there is a lot to discover in Lyon.

What do you think of Lyon?

Lyon CNN

French airport strikes continue, though will likely improve

December 20th, 2011 1 comment

Great news out of France for travelers (including me tomorrow):

Several security service teams working at airports around France are striking to receive more benefits and a pay raise.

This has affected Lyon St. Exupéry Airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (Roissy CDG), Toulouse and this may soon expand to Nice, Bâle-Mulhouse (Basel-Mulhouse) and Rennes. Video below.

The Aéroports de Paris website states the following at 3pm today: “Paris-CDG: Industrial action by security companies, 3 pm update Paris-CDG Terminal 2 : 15 mn wait time at security checks, up to 60 mn at peak times. No flight cancellations. Paris-Orly : normal situation.”

Normally the strikes before were also in terminals 1 and 3 of CDG. The Lyon website says strikes should continue to cause delays today but should not result in cancellations. To be confirmed.

Now the French government is looking into having a law obliging airports to have minimum service during strikes. They’ve also named 2 official mediators to try to resolve the crisis.

For the latest updates, call your airline and please check the respective airport websites and France 24 for latest information.

I’ll be writing a bit less during the holidays. Safe travels and Happy Holidays!

How long is the average French lunch break? 22 minutes

October 11th, 2011 6 comments

This just in…taken from the Local’s website.

How long do your lunches last during the work day?

French lunch breaks fall to just 22 minutes
Published: 29 Sep 2011 10:51 GMT+1
Despite the widely-held view that French workers while away long lunch hours over three-course lunches with wine, a new survey shows that most grab lunch in just over 20 minutes.

A survey by insurance company Malakoff Médéric found the shortening of the lunch break has been dramatic. While workers twenty years ago took 1 hour and 30 minutes at lunchtime, the average has now fallen to just 22 minutes.

“The lunch break has become the flexible part of the working day,” said Anne-Sophie Godon of Malakoff Médéric, reported Le Figaro. “The content of the day has become more dense, while the distance between home and work has tended to get longer. Given this, workers have no other choice than to trim their lunch break.”

The way workers eat is also changing. Just one in ten now go outside to restaurants and around one in five eat in the company canteen. Almost a third of workers go home at lunchtime and 14 percent reach for a sandwich, up 2 percent over two years.

Doctors believe that rapid eating can have negative effects.

“When we eat quickly, we don’t have the time to feel satisfied,” Doctor Patrick Serog told Le Figaro. “When we eat in front of a computer, it’s even worse: we don’t pay attention to what we’re eating. The result is a tendency to snack in the afternoon.”

“Taking a proper break of about three-quarters of an hour is the best,” said fellow doctor Odile Renard. “Without this break, stress can accumulate.”

A final incentive to get out of the office and into a restaurant or canteen could come from a survey conducted by job site Monster, which found that the average office can contain 400 times more germs than a toilet seat.

The Englishman who tends Monet’s Giverny gardens

The New York Times has an interesting profile of the Englishman who is head of the grounds at Giverny’s Monet estate gardens, James Priest. Excerpts below.

Keeping Abloom the Inspiration for Masterpieces
By SUZANNE DALEY
Published: July 26, 2011

GIVERNY, France — James Priest stood on a footbridge overlooking the lush Japanese-style lagoon at the bottom of Claude Monet’s garden, pleased with what he saw.
Enlarge This Image

It was here that Monet painted the water lily series that hangs in the Musée de L’Orangerie in Paris.

“Some people go into the museum and they say — ‘wow,’ ” Mr. Priest said. “But I get that feeling standing here. Looking at this makes your head spin. It makes your heart boom — just like his paintings do.”

Mr. Priest, who is British, likes it even better in the evening when the visitors are gone, a solitary view he can relish whenever he wants. He took over last month as head gardener of the grounds that surround Monet’s pink stucco country house here, where the painter lived and worked during the last four decades of his life.

No one has made much ado about handing over an iconic French garden to an Englishman, he said. But he does blanch when asked if parts of the garden — with their wild tangle of flowers — reflect more of an English style than the formal, symmetrical style of French gardens.

“Oh, you must not say that,” he said, looking just a little bit panicked. “It is a unique garden, neither French nor English. It’s an artist’s garden, a dreamer’s garden.”

“This is France,” he added. “They cut off people’s heads for saying less than that.” …

Mr. Priest was raised in England and studied gardening there, but he has lived in France for some 30 years, much of it married to a Frenchwoman and tending the gardens for the Rothschild family estate in Chantilly, on the outskirts of Paris, called Royaumont.

At first, Mr. Priest took his new job at Giverny in stride. But having spent much of the last few weeks giving interviews, he says the weight of the task of caring for one of France’s most famous gardens is sinking in. “I know this sounds silly,” he said. “But it’s only little by little that I’m realizing the aura around this place. I was quite naïve really.”…

Expatica: Exploring Paris First arrondissement

Expatica has an interesting historical and cultural peak by Thirza Vallois into the 1e arrondissement (1st arrondissement) of Paris.

Some excerpts below. Happy reading!

Around and about Paris: The First arrondissement
26/07/2011

As tourists snake their way to the Louvre Pyramid, or pack beneath, you may crave some relief in the nearby gardens of the Palais Royal, an arcaded haven of tranquillity, especially in the early hours of the morning. Expert Thirza Vallois offers a historical tour.

Between 1784 and 1830, on the other hand, the Palais Royal was the bustling centre of both intellectual and dissolute Paris. Cafés, restaurants, game-houses and brothels flourished under its arcades.

Whores and courtesans came here from all over Paris ‘faire le Palais’, as the saying went, among them the Pompadour’s mother. No wonder Casanova rushed here upon his arrival in Paris.

Palais Royal: Construction

In the late 18th century, the landlord of the palace was Philippe d’Orléans. Deep in debt, he built the arcades with shops running beneath as a rental business, drawing substantial profits in particular from the gambling houses and the brothels.

The newly converted Palais Royal was opened in 1784 to the satisfaction of all. The Palais Royal was the intellectual centre of the capital, studded with cafés where such prominent figures as Diderot used to sup and where dangerous new ideas circulated…

France’s Fête de la musique June 21, RER interruptions …

Today is the 30th annual Fête de la musique (Festival of music), a French tradition across the country. Despite the rainy weather in Paris, expect bands in the streets (in addition to pubs and bars) of all different flavors.

Learn more about the agenda at the website above.

For those not in Paris, there are many concerts elsewhere in France. Check with your local tourism office or city hall.

In Paris today, there will be some delays on the RER suburban rail lines, notably RER B, which connects downtown Paris to Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport. Information below from RATP’s website.

Mardi 21 juin 2011, État du trafic à 9h15 : Trafic normal sur les réseaux Métro, Bus et Tramway.

Préavis du syndicat CGT concernant les lignes A et B du RER zone RATP :
RER A :
Trafic quasi normal.

RER B :
1 train sur 2 entre Denfert Rochereau et Robinson / Saint Rémy-lès-Chevreuse.
Pas de trafic entre Denfert Rochereau et Gare du Nord.

Prévisions pour la journée :

RER zone RATP

RER A :
3 trains sur 4 en moyenne sur la journée
(interconnexion maintenue à Nanterre-Préfecture)
Voir les horaires détaillés
A partir de 20h30 et tout au long de la nuit jusqu’au lendemain matin : Trafic assuré à 100%

RER B :
De 16h30 à 20h30 : 1 train sur 2 entre Denfert Rochereau et Robinson / Saint Rémy-lès-Chevreuse
Voir les horaires détaillés
Après 20h30 et tout au long de la nuit jusqu’au lendemain matin, 1 train sur 3 entre Denfert Rochereau et Robinson / Massy-Palaiseau / Saint Rémy-lès-Chevreuse.

Nota: Des précisions vous seront communiquées à partir de 9H30 pour le trafic en heures creuses (entre 10h30 et 16H30 et après 20H30).

La RATP met à la disposition de ses voyageurs
un numéro vert : 0 800 15 11 11 et pour les téléphones mobiles : wap.ratp.fr

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