Thursday, January 29, 2009

I Love Paris When It's Striking

“You’ll never get back to London tomorrow. A national strike will shut down everything. There will be no Metro, no taxis, it will be complete chaos. Stay put.”

That was the advice of a Parisian friend but did we listen? No, we did not. Despite my visions of climbing over the barricades singing the Internationale with my suitcase, the Editor wanted to get back for a meeting and so we went.

Here’s what the media was reporting:

Ø 195 demonstrations across the country over the economic crisis
Ø Eight major unions participating – hundreds of thousands of workers striking
Ø Estimated cost of industrial action - €300 – 400 million

Here’s what we encountered:

Ø A blissfully deserted Paris (felt like August)
Ø Fully functioning Metro with empty trains
Ø Fully function Eurostar service to London (we arrived ahead of schedule)
Ø The best and easiest trip home ever!

Here’s what we learned:

Ø On days of national strikes, the French stay home, but you shouldn’t
Ø Stay underground, and stay away from the Bastille
Ø The French enjoy a good protest and you can too

Since we don’t expect economic conditions to improve any time soon (by their own estimates, the nation lost €300 to €400 million today), we expect these general strikes to continue but that’s no reason to stay away from this fabulous city. To paraphrase Cole Porter, “I even love Paris when it’s striking.”
Photo credit: Reuters

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