Tuesday, June 21, 2016


In a series of vignettes in the comic movie Airplane!, Leslie Nielson''s character says "Guess I picked the wrong time to stop smoking. ..to stop drinking...to stop taking methamphetamines..." Well, apparently, I picked the wrong time to return to France.

In the last month, they have had multiple strikes, bad weather, flooding in Paris, and hooligans at their international soccer games. The strikes included airlines, and future strikes are projected to include train service in Paris.

Still, I was optimistic. They got it out of their system, I thought. The flooding will recede, people will relax - hey, its summer!, the weather has to improve!  I'll be able to get there, get around. By then, things will calm down.

Wrong. Another 4 day airline strike called for this weekend, by the fine pilots of Air France - neatly bracketing when my flight is scheduled to occur - and that strike was bracketed by 2 more national strikes. No Air France for YOU, this weekend. Or, possibly, other services. And it's still wet in Paris.

And later? Will SNCF, the rail system, have a strike? The hotel in Paris? The car rental? My French friends say Don't worry. There are always alternatives. We know how to deal with it. I'm not so sanguine. When you've got a schedule, one thing can throw the whole thing off. You find yourself stuck someplace, thinking what do I do now?  Where can I go? When you live in that area already, its an inconvenience.  When you don't.... 

A perky column in The Local (French news, in English) written 'by an American' (I say 'an American' because the author calls herself that - and mentions that she's lived in France for the last several years) implores Americans  to come to Paris.    We will go again, probably.  Though not soon..  And when we do, almost certainly not with Air France.

We're probably not going to go. (Though we might.  Don't you love the precision?)  Fortunately, we should be able to get our money back -- though how long it will take, who knows.  I don't feel badly for Air France and SNCF, but I do feel badly for the small businesses that aren't going to have our money.  I don't think that we will be the difference between success and failure for them.  But if enough tourists think as we do?  Then maybe, yeah. 

Fun fact:  due to the United States' antiquated rail and airline system, it takes as long to get from Pennsylvania to Montreal as it does to get from Washington DC to Paris. 


RozWarren said...

If you can get your money back, I'd say cancel the trip and wait till next year. If you were just staying put rather than moving around, I'd say go for it. But this much anxiety is really going to undercut any fun you'll have.

Cerulean Bill said...

Well, the strike was called off. We're going. And may god have mercy on our souls. (Besides, next year, we're going to Italy.)

I agree about the anxiety. Hoping its just me being a wimp.