French protests threaten half-term travel gridlock

French protests threaten half-term travel gridlock

Those heading to France for the half-term holidays have been warned to expect severe disruptions due to ongoing protests against government pension reforms.

The UK Foreign Office said the protests were continuing to disrupt road, rail and air travel in France, with strikes causing “substantial and unpredictable disruption across the country”.

With demonstrators targeting fuel depots and oil refineries, the UK Foreign Office has warned UK motorists about possible fuel shortages and advised travellers to France to monitor local and UK media reports for updates about protests.

Meanwhile the RAC has advised motorists to carry sufficient fuel to complete their journeys.

Leaders of the main French unions have called for blanket strikes next Thursday.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy was hoping to force through a parliamentary vote on the pension and retirement-age changes.


Channel Tunnel high-speed train company Eurostar said its Paris trains were unaffected, but warned passengers connecting to other services that French domestic rail travel was likely to be disrupted.

P&O Ferries said its Dover-Calais services were operating normally. Company spokesman Chris Laming said: “We have had minor delays to services during the protests so far but one or two berths have remained open at Calais so we have been able to carry on.”

Passengers at some French airports have had to carry their own hold luggage off planes due to the strikes.

French national rail company SNCF reported some disruption to services, with some high-speed TGV services cancelled. Metro trains in Paris were also disrupted.

Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel said its Folkestone to Calais passenger and freight train services were running normally today.
Protests have led to outbreaks of violence in Lyon and the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

The RAC said: “We are advising motorists travelling to France to be aware of the current industrial action that is causing disruption across the country.

“Ongoing industrial action at oil refineries and fuel depots across France is creating a shortage of fuel with one in three petrol stations experiencing little or no fuel. News reports also suggest there is panic buying of fuel and ‘go slow’ protests are also affecting some motorways.”