Here’s what you need to know before visiting Paris during the ongoing pension protests

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  • Published on March 31, 2023
  • Last Updated May 15, 2023
  • In Passport

A new round of protests is scheduled for Thursday, April 6, which is likely to escalate and disrupt public transit and aviation travel.

Another wave of protests against French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed pension policy drew over 740,000 people to the streets of France on Tuesday. As reported by Detour, the proposed policy, which will raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 and become law by the end of the year, has caused uprisings throughout the country. According to the Associated Press, France’s Interior Ministry sent 13,000 officers around the nation to quell the protests, with half of them based in Paris.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday, garbage collectors ended a strike that had been going on since March 6; the action was in response to a proposed increase in the retirement age for garbage collectors, from 57 to 59.

Rising tensions are not only limited to Paris. Protests have been held in towns including Lyon, Nantes, and Bordeaux, and they have spread across the country. On Thursday, April 6, a fresh wave of demonstrations is set to begin, presumably bringing another escalation and perhaps disrupting several services, including public transit and air travel.

The Place de la Concorde is currently the scene of continuous protests, according to the “demonstration alert” released by the U.S. Embassy in Paris. There have also been reports of trash being set on fire and cars being torched.

Fire burning in the middle of a street in Paris, during a protest against the retirement reform, with French riot police (CRS) deploying in the background.
Fire burning in the middle of a street in Paris, during a protest against the retirement reform, with French riot police (CRS) deploying in the background. HJBC Shutterstock

The Plaza de la Concorde, located in the eighth arrondissement of Paris between the Champs-Élysées and the Jardin des Tuileries (the park next to the Louvre), is well-known for its fountains and enormous Egyptian obelisk.

More demonstrations may occur in and around Paris and other major towns in France, the embassy warned.

The embassy suggests that American citizens stay away from places where police presence is high and watch the news for updates. English-language French media outlets include France 24, RFI, and The Local. It is crucial to keep up with the latest developments because the sites of protests are not always known in advance.

The France travel advisory from the U.S. State Department is still at a Level 2 as of March 30, 2023, indicating that travelers should continue to exercise increased caution. The U.S. Embassy lists terrorism and civil upheaval as the causes.

The U.S. Embassy in Paris advises American residents to “avoid areas around protests and demonstrations” since “past demonstrations have turned violent… in case of violence or property damage, French authorities may use chemical agents and water cannons to disperse crowds.”

Contact the American Embassy in Paris at +33 (1) 43 12 22 22 or for further information.

The French Civil Aviation Authority has requested that all airlines reduce their flight schedules to and from Paris Orly airport and a number of other French airports between March 29 and April 2 “as part of the national strike action in France,” according to a statement from national carrier Air France.

Eighty percent of flights between Paris-Orly and other French airports will be operated by Air France, along with all long-distance flights, all flights to and from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, and all flights within France. A future flight credit or a full refund are available to passengers who have their trip canceled.

Protests can cause traffic and transportation congestion as well as service interruptions in and around major cities. Potential delays include travel between downtown and the primary Paris airports, Charles de Gaulle Roissy and Orly. Worker strikes can also affect transportation systems, including trains.

Crisis24 warns passengers to double check all bookings for transportation. The company advises guests to “not check out of accommodations until onward travel is confirmed,” and to give themselves extra time for transit in major French cities.


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