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kerouac Nov 1st, 2007 09:56 AM

November complications for visitors to France (and not just visitors)
Time to start a new thread on the upcoming French strikes.

It all starts on November 13th at 8pm. That's when the workers of 6 out of 8 SNCF unions will be starting an 'unlimited' strike for train service throughout France. Since strikes are rarely 100%, it's important to know which lines will be the hardest hit.

Basically, it goes like this: suburban and regional (TER) services often completely close down. Next in line are 'Corail' trains which are the non-TGV long distance trains. Most are likely to be cancelled. Then come all of the various TGV lines, which they try to keep running as well as possible (not very well during the October strike). They were only running at about 15% on a lot of lines in October. Finally, there are the prestigious Eurostar and Thalys lines which are top priority, but numerous trains will be cancelled anyway.

For anybody with Prem's or other non refundable tickets, they all become refundable and exchangeable during a strike, so that's one less worry.

How long will the strike last?

That's anybody's guess, since each strike is a 24-hour strike (from 8pm to 8pm), renewable daily. My own guess is that they will keep it running until at least November 20th, when the civil servants' strike kicks in. Just about all government offices, schools, museums, public services, etc., will probably be closed. The main university student and high school student organizations have also called for a strike for good measure, so the demonstrations should be pretty impressive, since young people love to demonstrate.

EDF and GDF will also be on strike. Those are the electric and gas companies. Normally, this does not disrupt service, except to some industrial users, but there can be surprises. If the lights went out in parts of Paris for an hour, I wouldn't be overly surprised. But so much of the equipment is totally automatic now that it is not really very likely.

The Paris metro (and other cities' municipal transport services) have not yet announced their intentions. For Paris, the announcement will be made next week, but expect the metro and buses to stop at 8pm on November 13th as well. If you have any opera or ballet tickets for the 14th, you can forget those, too. Opéra Garnier and Opéra Bastille will be on strike also (as they have been all this past week, just going back to work today).

On November 29th, judges and court personnel will be on strike. This should only affect you if you have been arrested during the demonstrations earlier in the month and are coming to trial.

kerouac Nov 1st, 2007 10:01 AM

I just broke the message so it wouldn't get too long.

During these strikes, lots of shops and offices will be operating on reduced hours in the big cities, just because people can't get to work or get home. In October, I saw a number of small shops with signs in the window saying things like "closing at 3pm today" even if the normal closing time was 7pm.

Visitors to Paris should not panic, because Paris is a lot of fun, even when you have to walk everywhere. Yes, I'll admit that if it is a rare visit, and you can't go to the Louvre or the Orsay and can't trudge on foot up to Montmartre, it <b>is</b> going to be somewhat disappointing. Sorry about that.

kerouac Nov 1st, 2007 10:09 AM

One last remark for the moment.

&quot;What is the reason for the strikes?&quot;

Well, these strikes should have never happened. All of the things against which people are protesting are inevitable sooner or later and everybody knows it (with a few adjustments, of course).

What the government and, more importantly, Sarkozy did wrong was to believe that a 53% election victory gave a blank check to the government to do everything as fast as possible and without any sort of negotiation. Sarkozy was so certain that everybody supported everything he had in his program (&quot;after all, they voted for me&quot;), that there was no need for any sort of negotiations. Well, he had a 75% approval rating in May, and he has dropped more than 20 points in the last couple of months... and still dropping.

Of course, there are always a few details that particularly irritate people, like the fact that he had his salary increased 160% yesterday, even though his salary is only pocket change and all of his living expenses are more than covered by the taxpayers already.

You'll probably find better explanations in the international press soon.

gruezi Nov 1st, 2007 10:13 AM


Just to clarify about the museums... They will close as of Nov 20th?

We will be there Nov 16-19. Am taking my daughter who is an art history student so our plan was to see a lot of museums. We will be staying in St. Germain and are good walkers.

Any suggestions for us on working around the strikes?

I haven't been to Paris in 25 years and it's my daughter's first trip and it was her 17th birthday present so I want to make sure she has a good experience.


blackduff Nov 1st, 2007 10:22 AM

EDF going on strike. Hurrah! They normally keep the electicity rates on the low rates for the whole day.

But, be careful, they might do the opposite. When your meter refuses to change over to the les heures creuses and stays at les heures pleines.


kerouac Nov 1st, 2007 10:28 AM

gruezi, in the October strikes a lot of the museums were closed or on reduced hours simply because the transit strikes had prevented too many employees from getting to work.

So the museums might be closed starting on the 14th due to insufficient personnel.

PalenQ Nov 1st, 2007 10:34 AM

Sarkozy - his recent interview on CBS 60 Minutes was an embarrassment for the French people i think and his haughty attitude portends a lot of strikes for a long time i think

They taped the pre-interview sit down and caught on tape Sarkozy saying he did not know he had this interview and called his press secretary an &quot;imbecile&quot;

and was downright rude to the interviewer - terminating it promptly when she asked about his wife and huffed off

I have never seen a public figure so full of himself and apparently so rude to his minions, some of whom i guess have already quit.

Perhaps France, like the U.S. in last two elections, get what they deserve and will put better candidates up next go.

As for PREMs being exchangeable that's fine but if your train is cancelled and all other trains are full i guess you are still out of luck, if not euros

anyways thanks for these reports, Jack

janeygirl Nov 1st, 2007 10:38 AM

Just wanted to thank you for the update, kerouac.

I was in Paris a few years ago during a transit strike and it didn't have a lot of effect on me except trying to get a taxi from the 11th to CDG airport. My prearranged taxi couldn't get through traffic, due to demonstrations, and the lines at the taxi stands were looooong.

I'm not arriving until the 29th of November and, as far as I know, I have no scheduled court appearances in Paris. Hopefully, I will have missed the majority of other strikes.

kenav Nov 1st, 2007 10:46 AM

hey janigirl,

I too am arriving on Nov 29th - for a conference but also to celebrate a friend's birthday (there will be 7 of us going).

I hope this strike doesn't screw everything up.

In France - During a strike they lower the electricity on purpose? Can you ever imagine that happening in the U.S.? Here in NY we have Con Ed which has its own probelms, but no one would ever stand for them lowering the electricity or shutting it off.

blackduff Nov 1st, 2007 10:52 AM

Sarko left the interview since the woman kept talking about his (ex)wife. He tried to something else but this woman said &quot;The American want more information about Ceilia&quot;.

He mentioned &quot;imbecile&quot; twice in the video I watched.

But think about this. Was the president of France brought to tell the Americans about his marital problems. Why? Did 60 minutes bring Tony Blair across the sea to see if he has had problems with his wife.

With all of the problems between France and the US, was Sarko's wife the basis of this cause.

People need more to watch than someone's misery.


PalenQ Nov 1st, 2007 10:53 AM

I don't think blackduff was talking about lowering the voltage, just the rates to a lower rate as obviously they have a peak rate and a lower rate

if they lowered the voltage it could ruin many appliances one would think

kerouac Nov 1st, 2007 11:00 AM

Actually in certain rare cases, the power is just cut off to certain sectors, just like a normal blackout. With electronic cash registers and such, it can create havoc, which is why they normally just warn factories that they are going to be off for an hour or two.

blackduff Nov 1st, 2007 02:00 PM

Not at all. For anyone who lives in France will understand the Les Heures Creuses and the Les Heures Pleines. What this means the way EDF changes the electricity during the day.

I have normally Les Heures Pleines from 08:00 am until 24:00 hr. Then EDF switches my meter to the Les Heures Creuses. This runs for eight hours. Then it returns to Les Heures Pleines again.

My hot water tank will switch only during the cheap rates (Les Heures Creuses) and it shuts down when it switches to Les Heures Pleines (the full price electricity).

When the EDF guys are on strike, they keep the electricity to stay on the cheap rate. It doesn't hurt me but the EDF people (the bosses) are very unhappy. Also, the EDF guys are getting a lot of support for their strike.

Part of this subject is politics and the other side is French life understanding.


kerouac Nov 1st, 2007 02:09 PM

In Paris, the low rate is from 23h to 7h.

kerouac Nov 1st, 2007 02:30 PM

And in the Paris suburbs, the low rate is from 22h to 6h. Presumably, suburbanites have to get up earlier to go to work in the big city and they have to go to bed earlier for the same reason.

avalon Nov 1st, 2007 02:35 PM

&quot;and was downright rude to the interviewer - terminating it promptly when she asked about his wife and huffed off&quot;

I guess that is rudeness only in the eye of the beholder, personally I congratulate him on his departure. I'm sick and tired of the personal lives of politicians and celebrities 24/7. All I want to hear is their positions and views on issues.

tedgale Nov 1st, 2007 03:49 PM

Please add my voice -- or my e-vote -- to the list of people who support M. Sarkozy for refusing to answer impertinent, trivial, demeaning questions to which no person should be subjected and that no gentleman would ever answer.

By chance, not design, I caught the news broadcast (in French) that displayed the footage of his removing his microphone (with difficulty) and leaving the set.

My spouse and I (in contast to M. Sarkozy, WE are HAPPILY married) spontaneously exclaimed &quot;Good for him!!&quot;

MademoiselleFifi Nov 1st, 2007 04:05 PM

Thanks for the updates, Kerouac. I'll be following this thread closely over the next 2 weeks.

How far is it to walk from Gare du Nord to Place Beaubourg?

BKP Nov 1st, 2007 04:52 PM

Thank you all for this information! We're arriving at CDG on the 24th! A couple of questions -- is there an official online source where I can get up to date information? You guys are amazing but I know life gets busy . . . I have been reading about trips to the airport taking up to 3 hours (on tripadvisor) has anyone else heard about this? That definitely changes how early we would need to leave to make our flight! We were planning on just catching a taxi at the airport -- I realize we might wait a while to get one but would hiring a shuttle service make a difference? Will churches -- Notre Dame, Sacre Couer, St. Chappelle, be affected? It seems like they shouldn't, but I just want to make sure! Last question -- since the Louvre and the Orsay were at the top of our list -- any other suggestions for things to see/do inside? I could spend the whole time walking, shopping, and eating but I worry about being able to do that if the weather is miserable. I guess the important thing to remember is that Paris is Paris -- no matter what!

kerouac Nov 1st, 2007 10:09 PM

Churches would be open no matter what kind of strike, but not the Sainte Chapelle which no longer has a religious function. The towers of Notre Dame would also be closed in such a case.

The transportation sites to look at during a strike are: and
Information will only be in French.

Gare du Nord to Beaubourg is an easy walk, maybe 20 minutes.

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