Should we skip Paris?
December 2, 2018 12:33 PM   Subscribe

I moved recently to London from the US, and my mother is visiting me from Los Angeles for the next two weeks. We had planned a 3 day jaunt to Paris via Eurostar but now I'm wondering if we should skip it due to the political unrest. I can't tell if we're being overly cautious or if it makes sense to just duck out this time.

I did buy travel insurance for the train tickets and we haven't got a hotel room booked yet, so it won't cost... anything really to cancel (except disappointment).

I have been to Paris for the first time recently for exactly two nights, it was a very busy trip where I walked around tons of the city, so at least I kind of know the area and the lay of the land and feel like I could somewhat competently get around, so while I'm pretty new to it all I'm not a total n00b. My mother has not ever been to Paris, she has some recurring leg pain so she walks slowly and we avoid walking too much - we would probably take cabs around to a few different sights, go and have some nice meals, and then make our way back. She is in her early 70s.

I do have a friend who was just there and he was stuck in his hotel during the protests due to the barricades and tear gas, and he said they basically took over the entire tourist area. He seemed pretty shaken by the experience. Is it likely to happen again next weekend? Right now I'm leaning heavily toward cancelling, but seeing as this is not just an opportunity that comes along too often I don't want to overreact and cancel something really special.

I also could change our train tickets to another location, Amsterdam or Brussels would be easiest, although I think my mom is less interested in those locations. :)
posted by pazazygeek to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't answer the political question, but I can help in relation to walking in Paris, if you decide to go.

When I visited a few years ago with someone who wasn't able to walk a lot we took the Batobus one day. It goes in a one-way circuit round the Seine, stopping at most of the places you'd probably want to see. It's not cheap compared with the Metro, but it's probably cheaper than taking several cabs. It was serene and peaceful and we used it 3 or 4 times over the course of the day. Traffic in Paris is nuts, so you might find you spend more money and time sitting in a cab than if you take the Batobus and see Paris from the riverside.
posted by essexjan at 12:56 PM on December 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'd think twice about Paris right now, and I say that as someone who loves Paris and is not normally troubled by protests. It's not that you'd be unsafe or in danger. It's that it could be a huge pain in the ass. Particularly if the protests move to, say, shut down the Metro or trains or other vital infrastructure.

There's lots of other lovely places for a 3 day jaunt from London. Amsterdam is lovely for three days. Brussels is kinda dull, but does put you in striking distance of Bruges.
posted by Nelson at 1:17 PM on December 2, 2018 [9 favorites]

If you Eurostar to brussels bear in mind you can build your onward travel within Belgium through the Eurostar website
posted by biffa at 1:31 PM on December 2, 2018

It's not that you'd be unsafe or in danger. It's that it could be a huge pain in the ass. Particularly if the protests move to, say, shut down the Metro or trains or other vital infrastructure.

Yeah, 7-year Paris resident here and this would be exactly my take. You two would be perfectly safe but it would be a shame to, say, get stuck for two hours in the metro or be evacuated from a venue/shop (which happened yesterday at Galeries Lafayette) because of gilet-jaune-adjacent tomfoolery*.

Go check out some other, equally lovely, much better-functioning corner of Europe this time. God knows Paris will still be here the next time she comes back, we've seen worse!

(*I'm not saying it's all foolishness, just that whenever there's A Moment like this, a handful of people always find a way to be jerks and make average citizens' life difficult.)
posted by peakes at 1:33 PM on December 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

Yeah, go to Brussels instead and take a train to Ghent. It's small and pretty and has a whole website about navigating with limited mobility. I would be very surprised if she didn't love it. Be prepared for it to be cold and rainy.
posted by tavegyl at 3:16 PM on December 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Personally,I would be a wary of taking the Eurostar around the Christmas season, as there are often delays and cancellations. If the situation in France escalates it's entirely possible that there may be some strikes that affect the service.

If you do decide to go, I'd second the plan for Ghent via Brussels - Ghent is lovely. It will be a little bit dim and misty at this time of year, which only adds to the atmosphere. Also, very good food (chocolate!) and excellent beer!
posted by Fuchsoid at 8:28 PM on December 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was just in Paris this past weekend...If it's a safety question, I think you'll be fine. However, it will likely affect your enjoyment of the city. We saw more police than usual Thursday and Friday, but had no other evidence of the protests (we didn't go up to the 8th). On Saturday most of the metro stations in the center were closed, and it caused problems across the whole network. Some bus stops were closed and lines were suspended, many attractions and museums were preemptively closed, and smoke from the fires was pretty heavy around the Opera area. Saturday evening certain areas looked like a war zone, but it was mostly cleared by Sunday morning. If you are looking forward to sightseeing around the Champs d'Elysee/Arc de Triomphe/Concorde, I think you should consider rescheduling.
posted by PosterGirlwithNoPoster at 8:10 AM on December 3, 2018

New York Times has this to say.
posted by soelo at 5:24 PM on December 3, 2018

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