Le sport national – The national sport

La grève!!!! Here is where the strike enjoys an immense popularity as a way of expressing one’s disagreement with government policy. Recently, the strikes have been in protest about the retirement reform that the president Sarkozy is trying to pass. People are angry that the majority of the cost of the reform will fall upon the middle class while the upper classes are enjoying tax breaks.

But despite how you feel about the reform, there is one group of people that grumbles about the grève, even if they are in agreement with it : the Parisians. Although transportation is not the only public service who will be striking, it is the most noticeable. Parisians depend greatly on public transportation to get to work or school or to doctor’s appointments and to return home. Public transportation is well organized in Paris and provided in so many ways, that regular middle-class life without it is un-imaginable. And even those who do use their own vehicles are greatly affected by the strikes, as the roads all become choked with traffic. Many people plan to walk, if they do not live too far out in the banlieu.

The next strike is scheduled for September 23rd. Here are a 10 tips for ‘survival’ :

1. Wear comfortable shoes.

2. Give yourself  at least an extra hour to get to work/school/wherever…

3. Bring energy snacks and water in your bag, in case you have two walk a couple extra hours that day.

4. Bring a city map with you, and map out your walking route before you leave home.

5. Use http://ratp.fr/ as a resource to find out the frequency of passage for each metro/RER line in the system. Line 14 usually is the one line that runs normally  during any strike.

6. Bring a lot of patience. Especially if you have to use the public transport system which may have thick crowds on the platforms and be crushingly packed inside the trains. BEWARE of your bags! Pickpockets use a good strike as fertile “feeding” grounds!

7. Minimize the errands you have to accomplish that day.

8. Get a vélib bike account and hang onto the rented bike for the whole day. Tt may cost a little more than usual to do so, but you will have a form of transportation.

9.Don’t forget weather-appropriate clothing! There’s nothing worse than walking home drenched in the rain, for two hours.

10. Go with the flow!

Bon courage!

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