France’s protests explained: everything you need to know if you’re visiting Paris soon


Protests and strike action have sprung up across France and its capital, Paris, after the French government rushed through a contentious bill to raise the country’s retirement age this week – resulting in flight cancellations, demonstrations and tonnes of trash piling up. So what does this mean for those expecting to travel to Paris or France in the next few days? Here’s everything to know. 

Why are there strikes in Paris?

The strikes and protests are being helmed by French people who are angered at the government’s intention to raise the country’s retirement age. After widespread controversy around the move (which shifts the retirement age in France from 62 to 64), President Macron’s government effectively forced the bill through parliament without a vote. The move escalated long-standing gripes about the change and triggered protests that are still ongoing at the time of writing (Tuesday 21 March 2023).

Riot police advance towards demonstrators protesting against the government after pushing the pensions reform without a vote using article 49.3Getty Images

Which sectors are striking?

Many public sectors have chosen to strike over the issue, including rubbish disposal, teachers and public transport officials. Flights have been cancelled due to an air traffic controllers strike (20 per cent of flights from Paris-Orly and Marseille-Provence airports will be cancelled on Tuesday 21 March and Wednesday 22 March). The Paris metro might be affected on some days – always check before you travel. 

Is it safe to visit Paris at the moment?

At the moment, the Foreign Office doesn’t advise against travel to France. It does warn of disruption and delays thanks to ongoing cross-sector strike action this week and advises UK travellers to keep checking up-to-date local media to keep informed about what’s going on in Paris and across France. states, “Protests could turn violent and/or continue. These could lead to disruptions to road travel.”

The official page also says, “You should monitor the media, check the latest advice with operators before travelling, avoid demonstrations and follow the advice of local authorities.”



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