Travel chaos to and from France predicted as strikes begin
Travel to and from France will be severely disrupted from Thursday morning owing to large-scale strikes across the country in protest at plans to overhaul its retirement system.
The walkout is expected to hit transport the hardest as flights, trains and buses suffer cancellations, and most of the Paris subway system comes to a halt.
No tickets are available on Eurostar trains until Tuesday, with the company saying it had cancelled almost 100 services between now and then.
Air France said around 30% of its domestic flights would be cancelled.
Easyjet, British Airways and Ryanair have also opted to cancel many of their flights to and from France.
As tourists cancelled travel plans, police said they would deploy thousands of extra officers across Paris to help the city cope with what is expected to be a challenging day on Thursday.
Workers at the national railway SNCF stopped on work on Wednesday evening while other services planned to shut down on Thursday morning for an indefinite period.
In Paris, where workers’ unions are planning a large-scale protest march on Thursday, police are warning of possible violence and damage and ordered all businesses, cafes and restaurants along the route to close.
Authorities also issued a ban on protests on the Champs-Elysees, around the presidential palace, parliament and Notre Dame Cathedral.
Paris police chief Didier Lallement said 6,000 police officers would be deployed around the city, amid fears that yellow vest protest groups and extremist troublemakers could join the action.
The Eiffel Tower is warning tourists to delay a visit to the famous monument because the strike will disrupt access on Thursday.
The Louvre Museum said its opening on Thursday may be delayed and some viewing rooms may be closed.
Hotels across Paris reported receiving numerous cancellations ahead of the strike, as wary tourists eyed closing transport routes and decided to skip their Paris trips.
The SNCF railway company expects nine out of 10 high-speed trains to be cancelled.
The French government said 55% of teachers would be on strike on Thursday and hospitals will also be affected.
Workers are angry at President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to streamline the country’s 42 state pension systems, fearing they will have to work longer and earn less upon retirement.