Having travelled for many years throughout the world I wasn’t really expecting much when I booked a flight to France and Spain for late September. Over here in North America there has been the odd snippet about unrest in much of Europe but I really hadn’t paid much attention to the news… until I booked my flight that is. As it turns out my arrival date of September 23 coincided with a general strike in France with threats of transportation interruptions both for air flights as well as ground transportation.
I certainly felt somewhat anxious but once we had taken off from Canada at least I knew I was going to Europe, maybe just not France. We did manage to land in Paris as the friendly air traffic controllers were allowing a limited number of flights to land, primarily overseas long hauls so I guess we qualified. We were using our standard private shuttle connections to get to our hotel so this wasn’t much of a concern. Basically just sit back and see what happens!
Early afternoon was certainly eventful. An interesting calm had hit Paris with many of the streets closed off to traffic. Wandering around was in some ways a little eerie with only pedestrians and bicycles plying the usually busy roads. Very sane but not to last.
A thunderous noise in the distance turned out to be the rally of somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 protesters (this depends on the sources; government low, unions high) showing their “lack of support” for the new higher retirement ages.
While I photograph events extensively this protest was different. Likely this was due to the huge numbers of people and the common goal amongst them. Very colourful, very noisy and in general very exciting to photograph.
PS – My wife was concerned about me being arrested but that possibility had to wait for a week and Barcelona.
PSS – I returned to Paris on October 11th and was greeted with another day of protests on October 12th. While transportation disruptions were common within the main area of Paris we had no problems moving around. Mind you, there really wasn’t a need to. A number of these images are from the October protest as well.