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March 22, 2018
France Braces for Weeks of
Disruptive Labor Actions

Spring is officially here, and with it comes the start of strike season in France. Strikes can be stressful and confusing for even the most experienced locals. To make it easier, here is a guide to the spring strikes and tips on how to cope with the disruptions.


March 21 - 23

A total of seven trade unions have called on public sector employees to strike this week. The sectors who have responded include school, hospital staff, civil servants, air traffic controllers and Paris subway workers. The national rail company, SNCF, has also decided to join in on the action. Other air travel workers will be on strike on March 23rd, impacting about 25% of flights in and out of France.

March 30 

Ten labor unions representing the air travel industry have scheduled a strike for Friday, March 30. Pilots, stewards, stewardesses and airport staff will go on strike that day. 

April 3 - June 28

Next month and through June, the SNCF workers all around France are scheduled to be on strikes for a total of 36 days, spread from April to June, with a pattern of 2 days of strikes followed by 3 regular days. The schedule is as follow:

  • Days in April: 3, 4, 8, 9, 13, 14, 18, 19, 23, 24, 28, 29
  • Days in May: 3, 4, 8, 9, 13, 14, 18, 19, 23, 24, 28, 29
  • Days in June: 2, 3, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 22, 23, 27, 28


March 21 – 23 

  • Air travel: 30% of flights are cancelled in and out of Paris’ main airports (CDG, Orly, Beauvais) and 25% of the air travel elsewhere is impacted.
  • Train transportation: international, national and regional trains are heavily impacted with traffic almost halved. One out of three international trains (Eurostar, Thalys, Renfe, ICE, Lyria) will be impacted. One out of two regional trains will be impacted. Only two high speed trains (TGV) out of five will be running. 
  • Street protests: thousands of people are marching out resulting in difficult traffic in inner cities. 

March 30

About 30% of air travel will be impacted across France with Air France’s flight to be the most affected by this strike. Several major airports will face disruptions including Paris airports, Bordeaux, Marseilles, and Nantes.

April 3 – June 28

From regional to international trains, rail service will be highly disrupted during these 36 days. So much so that the rail company, SNCF, no longer accepts reservations for those days. Other passengers are encouraged to change their itinerary or postpone their travel.  


If you are in big cities, steer clear of central areas which are prone to protests. Avoid public transit and use alternative modes of transportation such as bike rental. If you don’t have far to go, walking is always the best option. Don’t plan on driving through inner cities; there’s nothing worse than getting stuck in gridlock traffic caused by a slowly moving march.

Frequently check your train or airline’s website for updates. If your reservation is impacted by a strike, you are entitled to postpone or cancel your trip. Call your travel booking agency for further assistance.

Make sure your phone is charged before you leave your hotel in case you need to research an alternative route, make an emergency call to warn someone you’re going to be late, or just want to use it to kill time while waiting for your flight or train.

Come equipped with entertainment. Whether it be a book, a magazine, a video game or your favorite playlist, it could get you through the long wait or commute.

Depending on how negotiations between the unions and French governments go, more strikes could be scheduled, or actions could also be cancelled. Frequently check and listen to local French news for updates. 

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