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What Travelers Need To Know About Visiting France Right Now Amid Civil Unrest

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Tons of trash piled up in the streets, violent uprisings, bins on fire, and protests are part of what travelers visiting France will see right now.

Tourists must be careful and learn about what is happening in this popular destination. 

Protest in Paris against the pension reform project

For weeks, trash has been piling up in Paris. Collectors refuse to pick it up as a part of a protest, and now violent events have erupted.

According to recent information shared by NPR, over 1 million people have taken the streets across the country to protest against the government’s new pension reform. 

President Emmanuel Macron has proposed a bill to increase the retirement age by two years, from 62 to 64, and thousands of protesters took to the streets on March 23. 

While the decision has not been officiated yet—the Constitutional Council must approve the bill first — the atmosphere is quite tense, and it doesn’t seem to cool down soon. President Macron remains firm and stated that his government would “yield nothing to violence”

The U.S. Embassy in France issued a “demonstration alert” warning American citizens visiting France about the current situation and sharing a few recommendations. 

As reported by the French radio news network RFI, the protests are expected to continue in the following days as another protest against the government has been announced for next Tuesday, March 28. 

Here’s what travelers should know about visiting France right now:

The Situation In Paris

While March is usually a great month to visit Paris —the weather is nice, and travelers don’t have to deal with over-tourism — it’s not a romantic moment in the City of Light.

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Trash piled up in street, Paris

Over 119,000 people participated in the demonstration on March 23, as reported by the local police. Later that day, violent scenes erupted, and 80 people were arrested. Protesters set garbage cans, kiosks, and cars on fire, people were injured, and the confrontation between protesters and the police got violent.

On this day, tourist places like the Arc de Triomphe, the  Eiffel Tower, and the Palace of Versailles were closed but reopened the next day. 

Certain shops and restaurants might close depending on the current situation. Although many restaurants remained open while cars and trash bins were being set on fire in the streets. Tourists and certain businesses have been trying to keep calm and continue a relatively normal experience.

@j.fontes I was amazed at how these two realities coexist #manifestation #parismanifestation #parismanifestations #manifestationparis2023 #parisprotests #reformedesretraites #realtimenews #parisriot #parisriots #parisisonfire #parisisonfire ♬ c`est si bon – Eartha Kitt

There are also piles of trash in the streets, as there is a garbage strike, and collectors haven’t picked up the trash in over two weeks. 

Tiktoker Amanda Rollins explained to her followers that travelers should just avoid dangerous areas and stay tuned regarding the locations of the protests and the transportation updates.

@americanfille Paris protests March 23rd #parisprotest #parisgreve #paris ♬ original sound – Amanda Rollins

Civil Unrest In Other French Cities

Even though Paris, the capital, has been the main city where massive riots have been taking place, in other tourist cities, protesters have shown up as well. 

Lyon has also been hit. Besides the riots in the streets, travelers might also encounter restaurants that turn out their lights at night. Another protest against the soaring energy prices has been reported in this city, and multiple restaurants are serving dinner by candlelight. 

In Bordeaux, the beautiful coastal town where Hilton will open a new fascinating resort this year, the city hall was set on fire during the protests. In Strasbourg and Toulouse, violent events have also been reported.


Bordeaux City Hall was set on fire amid nationwide pension reform protests in France. President Emmanuel Macron has advised Britain’s King Charles III to postpone his planned trip, saying, “We would not be serious … to make a state visit in the middle of protests.”

♬ original sound – The Associated Press

Recommendations for travelers

The U.S. Embassy in Frace recommended that American citizens in France avoid demonstration areas and beware of locations where there is significant police activity and vicinity of protests or large gatherings. 

American flag at U.S. Embassy

Travelers should notify friends and families of their locations, make sure to have insurance coverage and monitor local media. These are the French media —with English language versions— suggested by the U.S. Embassy: 

Learning where the next protests will take place—the locations are usually disclosed closer to the date— will help travelers avoid unpleasant situations.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Sunday 26th of March 2023

Retiring at the age of 64 is like a dream to other European countries. But of course the French need to strike, like they always do.


Sunday 26th of March 2023

Sounds like France, just being France. When do they ever actually work? Just strike after strike. 🤷🏻‍♀️