Strikes in France Continue to Impact Travelers

October 15, 2010 on 10:44 am | In France Travel, Normandy, Paris Travel,, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel warnings | 1 Comment

Well, the French strikers continue to hold their position and the government continues not to budge.

The strikes in Paris and around the country will extend into next week with a major strike planned for October 19, the eve of the French Senate vote on the retirement age bill. See this article from Bloomberg for more details.

One of the related aspects of the strikes and unrest in France over the pension issue is that the country’s petrol refineries have been blockaded by strikers, as have the ports that receive oil from abroad. In short, the country is in danger of running out of fuel over the next ten days, if there is not some change in the situation.

Today, the fuel supply to de Gaulle and Orly airports, which serve Paris, were shut off as the company that operates the pipelines to these airports reported that they had no supplies of fuel. See the BBC for a detailed report on the fuel shortage throughout the country.

If you are planning on traveling in France over the next week, we recommend that you consider changing your plans. It is unlikely that you will find fuel for your car and even if you plan to rely on public transportation, you will likely find cutbacks and abbreviated schedules.

In short, this is not the week to travel France, unless you are planning on walking, bicycling or riding a horse! Even so, the impact of a sustained fuel shortage could have a serious consequences for the the integrity of the infrastructure of France, including the availability of food and basic services.

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More Strikes in France

October 11, 2010 on 10:26 am | In France Travel, Paris Travel,, international travel, personal travel, strikes, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel warnings | 2 Comments

The strike season appears to be turning into a year around phenomenon in France, as a major strike has been called for Tuesday that is expected to grind transportation to a halt countrywide (including air, rail and Metro (in Paris)). Further, the strikers will demonstrate again on Saturday. Another aspect of this strike is that it is an “open strike”, which means that the strike could be renewed daily by a vote of the workers supporting the effort.

Most flights into Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports will be canceled, so if you have plans to fly to, from or within France, you should contact your airlines to see what is possible.

This week’s strike in France is a specific response to the Upper House of the French system of government voting to change the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 and the age for a full pension from 65 to 67. Read more details about the strike and the issues behind it at Yahoo news.

If you will be traveling in France tomorrow, avoid gatherings associated with the strike. It is expected that the strike will be large (as all unions seem to be supporting it) and disrupt the normal flow of daily life throughout the country.

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Travel Alert For Europe – What To Do?

October 3, 2010 on 9:50 am | In Europe travel, France Travel, Germany travel, Terrorism and travel,, Travel Safety, UK Travel, england travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel warnings | Comments Off

The State Department of the United States has issued a travel alert for US citizens who may be planning travel to Europe, those already traveling in Europe and those who may be living or studying in Europe. The crux of the matter is that a recently captured terrorist has apparently revealed that Al Qa’ida operatives are in the planning stages for launching terrorist attacks in Europe similar to the one that happened in Mumbai, India in 2008. While the cell in question has been penetrated and appears to be in disarray, it is thought that others may be planning similar operations in Europe and elsewhere.

By the way, in the jargon of the State Department, travel alerts are defined as follows. “Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information about short-term conditions that pose significant risks to U.S. Citizens. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, coups, anniversaries of terrorist events, election-related demonstrations or violence, and high-profile events such as international conferences or regional sports events are examples of conditions that might generate a Travel Alert.” Travel Alerts, such as the one just issued for Europe do not mean that the government will prohibit you from traveling to a location, only that it wants to inform you of potential risks that may exist at the location.

The State Department, also, issues another, more severe form of advisory called a Travel Warning when they want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all. At this time, they have not issued a Travel Warning for Europe.

As we have noted previously, terrorism is a fact of modern life that each of us has to decide how we will deal with. Some will plan their vacations and have a wonderful time while abroad. Others will be nervous wrecks while traveling and not enjoy their trip. Still others will decide to delay travel until sometime in the future when they feel more comfortable with the terrorism situation. The reality is that each of these choices are appropriate for various individuals and this leads to the conclusion that you, as an individual, must evaluate the risk of travel against the rewards and decide to travel or not based on your values and intuition.

Our role is to attempt to provide you with the information that might help you make your travel decision. Below, we present the complete text of the State Department Travel Alert on Europe.

Travel Alert
Bureau of Consular Affairs

October 3, 2010

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to the potential for terrorist attacks in Europe. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.

Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.

We continue to work closely with our European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including al-Qa’ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.

We recommend U.S. citizens register their travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from elsewhere in the world.

For information on general crime and security issues, U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s Country-Specific Information as well as the Worldwide Caution, which can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. For further information on safety tips while traveling abroad, U.S. citizens should also consult the following website:

This Travel Alert expires on January 31, 2011.

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France Prepares For More Terrorism

September 21, 2010 on 2:14 pm | In France Travel, Paris Travel, Terrorism and travel,, Travel Safety, things travelers need to know, travel warnings | Comments Off

An article in today’s BBC news indicated that the government of France has taken additional anti-terrorism preparations after being alerted to a potential terrorism attack. The report was specific and indicated that a female suicide bomber intends to target the country’s transportation system. However, the country has also increased its patrols around national monuments, museums and other tourist attractions (including some shopping areas). DW-World also has good coverage of the terror threat.

Recently, France has been threatened by Islamic militants from the Sahara states of Africa. In addition, France’s recent attack on an al Queda camp in Mali may have contributed to the increased potential for terrorism, as may its recent ban on the headscarves worn by many women who practice Islam.

Travel is not an opportunity that comes without its risks in the modern world and all tourists should be alert for possible dangers whenever and wherever they travel. As a consequence, travelers should weigh the potential dangers of travel when deciding whether or not to travel. If you do travel, pay attention to local news reports at your destination for information on potential problems and always avoid public demonstrations or any other situations that might prove dangerous.

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Strike in France Today

September 6, 2010 on 10:15 pm | In France Travel, Paris Travel,, air travel, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know | Comments Off

The President of France has proposed raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 and citizens of France seem none too happy about the proposal. There will be a 24 hour strike in France starting Tuesday and it is expected to be significant. See this article in the Telegraph for more details.

Avoid travel in France tomorrow, if possible. If not, stay out of the way of the strikers, as this may be a spirited strike.

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EU-Wide Strike on September 29, 2010

August 25, 2010 on 10:09 am | In Europe travel, France Travel, Germany travel, Greece Travel, Italy travel, Spain Travel, england travel, strikes and travel | Comments Off

On September 29, 2010 many of Europe’s trade unions are planing an EU-wide protest against the austerity measures imposed by governments in the region. For more details see this excellent article published by the European Voice.

While numerous pan-European actions are still being considered, there are currently plans for strikes in Spain, Italy, Portugal and a mass demonstration in Brussels (that could exceed 70,000 participants).

If you plan on traveling in the EU during this period, be prepared for some inconvenience. We recommend avoiding Brussels on September 29, as the demonstration is being held in advance of a meeting of the EU Finance Ministers in the city on the 30th and 31st of September.

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Air Traffic Strike in France

July 20, 2010 on 8:09 am | In France, France Travel,, air travel, strikes, things travelers need to know, travel news | Comments Off

A twenty-four hour air traffic control strike in France will start tonight and end Thursday morning. It is expected that the strike will not affect long haul flights, but shorter flights from Charles DeGaulle (Roissy) and Orly may see a reduction in frequency. Unfortunately, stormy weather is predicted for Wednesday, which may exacerbate the problem. By the way, the strike reflects the desire of the French air traffic controllers to not be a part of the a proposed integrated system of air traffic control that would cover all Europe. See this article at Reuters for detailed information.

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Rioting in Grenoble, France

July 18, 2010 on 8:51 am | In France, France Travel,, Travel Safety, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel warnings | 1 Comment

There has been rioting in the Grenoble suburb of La Villeneuve over the weekend. The unrest started Friday night when a suspect in an armed robbery of a casino was killed in a gunfight with local police. Over eighty cars were torched in the aftermath of the shooting during two nights of rioting. See this article in Deutsche Welle for more details on this story.

It appears that the riots are waning. However, we advise travelers who may be headed for Grenoble, located at the foot of the French Alps, to delay their travel until next week, if possible.

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Always Going South?

June 24, 2010 on 11:51 am | In France Travel,, amazing travel facts, things travelers need to know, travel news | 1 Comment

Today, we read an interesting article in Science News indicating that travelers prefer to take southern routes over northern ones. It appears that many of the subjects in the experiment seemed to think that the northern route between two places was a longer distance than a southern route connecting the two places, even though both routes were the same length. One notion advanced to explain this difference is that people may equate routes going north as being “uphill” and avoid them. You can read the Science News article here.

Going up doesn’t seem to dissuade visitors to the Eiffel Tower from the ascent, but maybe the elevators, the beautiful view and the ambiance of the Tour Eiffel overcome gravity.

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Tragedy, Lust, Murder and the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

June 17, 2010 on 1:55 pm | In France Travel, Paris Travel,, things travelers need to know, travel books | 1 Comment

This week we received a piece of promotional email from Anna Eriksson who has written a guidebook for the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Illustrated with superb photography by Mason Bendewald, the guide includes practical information and intriguing stories about 31 of the most famous people interred in the world’s most interesting cemetery, including: Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Collette, Heloise and Abelard, Moliere, Edith Piaf, Proust, Isadora Duncan, Sarah Bernhardt and Maria Callas – to name of a few.

When we updated and expanded our Paris Guide this spring, we added a new section on Pere Lachaise and think that you might find Anna Eriksson’s guide to be of interest if you will be traveling to Paris. An iPod audio edition of the guide is also available. See this website for details on the book, the author and the Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

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