As a traveler to France, one of the important words you need to learn is ‘greve’ or strike.
Two times of the year most likely for strikes would be spring or fall and this fall, Fall 2007, it looks like the strike date for the SNCF, France’s railway system, is scheduled for October 17th, 2007. So, if you’re planning on using the railway system – (and possibly other modes of transportation on that particular day, be advised to make back-up plans).
As much of an inconvenience this can be for travelers, remember that it’s even more of an inconvenience for people working in France, so try to roll with the punches. Forewarned is forearmed.
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What you also need to know about strikes in France is that when one branch of transportation strikes, others may follow out of sympathy. Perhaps one of the worst examples of a massive strike was 1995 ( a great year for wine, a lousy year for workers in Paris – who learned to walk or bicycle to their jobs).
Just because you’re not using the SNCF train system doesn’t necessarily mean that your travel mode is unaffected. For example, if you’re renting a car, you may very well encounter higher traffic on the roads. Taxis may be more difficult to get. The best way to be informed about upcoming strikes is to check major newspapers such as the Le Figaro or Le Parisien.
Regarding the 1995 massive strike, current organisers suggest that although history never repeats itself in the same way, they suggest that if demands aren’t met, the October strike may bear some sort of resemblance. Tomorrow, the RATP (Paris Metro operators decide what their stance will be regarding the upcoming strike).
Sadly, the English version of Le Figaro had no mention of the strike. This may be due to a lag time in translating – I hope Le Figaro will remedy this give advance notice to English speaking visitors.
Some other possible sources regarding strikes would be www.easycdg.com (you can send them questions regarding airport traffic and they may have information about upcoming strikes regarding airport handlers and airlines etc.).
For those of you who are in France during the Rugby World Cup, you’ll want to be sure to have back-up plans for any games you’re attending – i.e. – have your bicycle ready! You’ll note that the strike organizers have very been considerate enough not to start their strike on a Rugby match night. You’ll note on the Rugby schedule that there’s actually a two day pause between the final games of the Rugby World Cup. Hmmm, is there a strategy here? Resolve the issues in time for the World Cup finale?