"A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it." – John Steinbeck
It's such as coincidence my last visit a mere 6 years ago the SNCF (folks who runs the metro, trains and TGV) were striking, little did I know history was indeed repeating itself. This time around the main argument was surrounded by increase in retirement age from 60 to 62. 62 year old isn’t that bad at all compare to 65 in the US and 66 in Germany and possibly 65 in UK, the approved change in France is lowest age.
President Nicolas Sarkozy has repeated stated this is what the country needs and refuses to rescind the decision to increase the retirement age.
How visitor are’s effected:
1) There are less train running and remaining trains are very crowdy and requires passengers to cramp in, picture 5 people in a phone booth.
2) Many of the national heritages sights are compromised and no longer follows the normal open and close times, for example the Musee D’orsay postponed opening on Tuesday for 2 hours and then close down the museum all together after long discussion. Same goes for other sights like Eiffel Tour and Palace of Versailles.
3) Visitor with car rental face the toughest challenge, many stations are out of gas and the ones that still do have a queue about 12 cars deep.
No visitor in foreign countries wishes to have their itinerary thwarted by civil unrest, however to under the struggles and appreciate the cause French people are fighting for is a unique experience all together. On my way to exchange money in the latin quarter, there were loud drums and protesters marching up the streets, mostly composed of students and there were a few laborers, with signs protesting the president comparing him to Petain (French general who collaborated with the German).