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protests in paris

jbr
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protests in paris

will be arriving in paris this tuesday 28th and have been reading in our papers about all the protestors and seems like they are getting more violint will we be safe walking around the tourist places in paris? any advice from locals in paris about this?

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1. Re: protests in paris

I just got back from Paris yesterday and other than soldiers being posted inside the metro stations, I saw nothing else. You should be fine, as protests will be over by the time you get there and extra precautions seem to be taken near tourist attractions.

Irish in Paris
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2. Re: protests in paris

>other than soldiers being posted inside the metro stations, I saw nothing else.

Probably nothing to do with the demos though.

Paris
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3. Re: protests in paris

The violence is "limited":

- to demonstrations

- but only to the moment these demos are supposed to end; small violent groups that have nothing to do with the demonstrators infiltrate them to attack the police, the stores, even the demonstrators.

So just casually walking anywhere, you are running no risk at all. If you see and hear 50,000 young people foul mouthing Villepin, take a few pictures for the Parisian folklore, and go to Ladurée, Angelina's or any other safe popular shelter mentioned on this forum.

the big blue marble
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4. Re: protests in paris

I read this afternoon's Le Figaro. According to the unions RER A & B as well as metro service will be reduced 50% (that would be the worst case scenario, the service may even be better).

As for safety, up to now the protests have been pre-planned affairs that respect a very defined route. The students are there to march and perhaps provoke the police just enough to make the news.

Yesterday something different happened. Yesterday about 200 unsavoury individuals that the French refer to as "Breakers" and what we would call thugs joined the march. These youth were dangerous (they attacked a student who is now seriously injured and in hospital) and were there to rob the students, attack the police, break, burn and destroy.

HOWEVER, these disturbing forces stayed within the protests and ONLY THOSE PARTICIPATING WERE EVER IN DANGER. It is very EASY TO AVOID these areas and the police do a good job of making sure there are no unsuspecting passers by.

Yesterday for example, you'd have been OBLIVIOUS of the drama UNLESS you had been heading to the Rodin Museum or the Hotel des Invalides. If you had been heading there you would have had FAIR WARNING that something was up.

Basically IF YOU SEE about 20 POLICE VANS in a row, CHANGE PLANS.

the big blue marble
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5. Re: protests in paris

Sorry, I did not mean to repeat what everyone else had said, but I had to stop mid-post and didn't see the others prior to hitting send.

Brooklyn, New York
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6. Re: protests in paris

I know we've talked about US coverage of events past and current in Paris - but today's Washington Post bears reading by anybody planning a trip...

Protest Turns Violent in Heart of Paris

Gang Rampage Mars Rally Against Job Law; Pressure Builds on Chirac

By Molly Moore

Washington Post Foreign Service

Friday, March 24, 2006; A01

PARIS, March 23 -- It was just the scene the French government had been dreading: burning cars seven blocks from the Eiffel Tower, shop windows smashed along one of the capital's toniest streets, and columns of helmeted riot police advancing across the greensward of a prominent tourist venue.

Antoil Ethuin, 48, stood outside the shattered windows of his Bike n' Roll rental shop Thursday, stunned by the destruction of the worst violence in two weeks of student protests in Paris and other French cities.

"My country is broken," said Ethuin, gazing at the smoldering automobile carcasses a few yards away and the carpet of glass shards, broken dishes and computer pieces covering the sidewalk in the heart of one of the city's most affluent neighborhoods. "I never imagined I would ever see this in Paris."

Thursday's violence came at the end of a demonstration by tens of thousands of high school and college students protesting a new job law. The unrest intensified a political crisis that now threatens to unravel President Jacques Chirac's government -- much the way previous French governments have been felled by strikes and street protests when they attempted even modest reforms of the country's costly welfare state.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin -- author of the contentious law that would make it easier for companies to both hire and fire young workers -- has scheduled an emergency meeting with the country's most influential labor unions Friday in an effort to defuse the crisis.

The demonstrations have underscored the widening divide between the French government and its people at a time when France is losing both economic and political clout on the global stage. Street protests and general strikes, often occurring in the spring, have long been an accepted political ritual in France, and they now have become a symbol of the country's inability to reform a stagnant economy hobbled by inflexible labor laws, high taxes and a corpulent welfare system.

It is a crisis also facing other countries across Europe as governments of the left and the right have similarly attempted to alter their costly systems of generous health, unemployment and welfare benefits; most, like that of former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, have failed in the face of widespread resistance to change.

On Thursday afternoon, as a crowd of as many as 140,000 young people and others prepared to end their march in the large park fronting the gold-domed Hotel des Invalides housing Napoleon's tomb, gangs of hooded and masked youths darted out of side streets, setting cars ablaze, flipping others upside down, breaking store windows and throwing rocks and stones at police and firefighters, according to witnesses.

Riot police broke up the groups of rampaging youths with tear gas as acrid, black smoke filled narrow streets and billowed above the city skyline.

Police said 60 people were injured in the clashes, including 27 police officers, and 141 people were arrested.

The shellshocked owner of the Shanghai Restaurant overlooking the Esplanade des Invalides stood outside the jagged glass of his doorway, dejected and slump-shouldered. Broken dishes and pots of white and purple flowers littered the street. Inside, splintered chairs and table settings covered the restaurant floor.

Nearly a dozen stores, restaurants and apartment buildings were attacked and damaged. Firefighters struggled to extinguish the flames of three burned-out cars. Four other vehicles had been overturned or severely battered.

In the park across the street, hundreds of riot police clad in black uniforms and carrying shields advanced toward groups of suspected troublemakers against the backdrop of the Hotel des Invalides, the low-slung Foreign Ministry building and the golden statues standing sentry at the Invalides Bridge traversing the Seine River.

The attacks at the corner of Rue Saint Dominique and Rue Fabert, just a short walk from the Eiffel Tower in Paris's affluent and touristy 7th arrondissement, followed a pattern that has emerged in the last few days of marches.

While the demonstrations have been orderly and peaceful, groups of 200 to 300 youths who police say do not appear to be participating in the organized marches have appeared suddenly during concluding rallies, taunting police and creating havoc.

Police have speculated that the gangs may be from the poor suburban areas that erupted in riots last fall. In those disturbances, youths across France -- many of them immigrants or French-born children of immigrants -- burned thousands of cars and hundreds of public buildings and private businesses to protest government indifference to the joblessness and lack of social services in their communities. Little of that violence spilled over into Paris or other urban centers.

Both the suburban riots and the ongoing student demonstrations have been devastating to Chirac's government and could destroy the presidential aspirations of his party's two leading candidates -- Villepin and his rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy was blamed for fueling last fall's riots with derogatory and inflammatory comments directed at youths in the suburban housing projects.

Villepin attempted to capitalize on Sarkozy's political misfortunes by pushing a law he said was intended to give companies greater incentive to hire young people. Now, many members of Villepin's party are distancing themselves from the prime minister. French newspapers on Thursday began reporting leaks from anonymous government officials that Chirac is threatening to fire Villepin if he does not resolve the crisis quickly.

The law, scheduled to take effect in April, would allow employers to fire workers under age 26 without cause during their first two years on the job.

Under existing law, it is impossible to fire even the most incompetent workers without huge financial liabilities for companies. College students, other young people and unions say the new law discriminates against the young by denying them the job security that older workers have.

Even as Ethuin, the bike rental shop owner, surveyed the damage along his block Thursday afternoon, he couldn't bring himself to criticize the young people whose demonstration brought the violence to his doorstep.

"They have no jobs," he said. "It's not their fault."

Washington, DC
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7. Re: protests in paris

I appreciated your post, phread. I have relatives leaving for Paris on Saturday for a week, and I and my wife will both be leaving for Paris in 3 weeks, so we are all concerned about what is going on. It's great to have a "local expert" there who can read the local press and translate it for us!

No. VA
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8. Re: protests in paris

I also read the article in the Washington Post today. My son and I will be staying right near Les Invalides/Rodin 12-15 April (where violence took place yesterday).

I agree with phread that situations such as this one dictate common sense. Be it Paris or anyplace else, there will always be unknowns and safety issues when traveling. However, the rewards outweigh the pitfalls.

Paris
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9. Re: protests in paris

I told you so: stay away from the 7th! It's evil!

Bea
Sarasota, Fl
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10. Re: protests in paris

Hello,

We left Paris on Wednesday. There were many demostrations mostly involving students and young people around the city. We stood on the sidewalk and watched thousands of people walking along. They were doing it all very much in control while police sat on the edges, stopped traffic and just watched...lots of police. A few days later when we had to walk back to our flat because no vehicles were allowed into the gare de Lyon area, we did see water on some streets which meant the police had to use hoses on the marchers. The news showed the police using tear gas on some of the protesters in some areas.

As said, whenever something was up there were plenty of police, tv announcements, bus interuptions (posted at the stops), newspaper coverage, to tell you where you should avoid. Just watch TV, check out what is going on each day.

I must say I felt that the protestors were doing something very democratic........It was a wonderful thing to see. People peacefully objecting to their governments actions and those not even envolved surporting them and living with the personal inconveniences their marching caused.

As with any movement, there are often "outsiders" joining in just to make trouble. IMO, stay away from where they are for that reason. One police persons reaction to a problem can escalate into something unpleasant.

It is easy to do. Just be a little flexible and you will surely be fine. I do hope that Paris has warmed up for your trip. Have a bon voyage!