More Gilets Jaunes protests are planned across France this weekend – the ninth weekend of protests. Last weekend there were demonstrations in La Rochelle, Bordeaux, and Nantes, as well as other towns and cities. Embassies are warning tourists and other travellers to stay away from large crowds – more info and advice below.
The Guardian reports that Bourges has been chosen as a central rallying point for this weekend, and the small town has ‘closed museums, cleared building sites, removed parking meters and covered up electronic signs at bus stops. The local police chief on Friday banned any demonstration in Bourges historic centre, meaning protestors would have to keep to boulevards on the edge of the town.’
In recent weeks, the protests were getting smaller, but authorities have deployed of 80,000 police across the country and headlines are suggesting much larger numbers are expected this weekend.
Despite the drop in numbers in previous weeks, there continued to be outbreaks of violence and vandalism. Gilets Jaunes have set fire to a number of toll booths on highways, and police report around 60% of the nation’s speed cameras have been damaged. Last weekend protestors in Paris broke into a ministry and smashed some windows.
We have pulled together information, advice and useful Twitter accounts for you to follow, to help you stay safe.
These protests started in late November and have seen petrol pumps run dry in several places, violence in the heart of Paris, and at least nine deaths. You can read our full coverage of the recent protests here.
Which Paris sites will be closed?
Unlike during previous protest weekends, most tourist sites in Paris will be open this weekend. This is the Paris Tourist Information‘s list of museums and tourists sites that will be closed – click through to check your itinerary before you head out.
What you should look out for
Traffic disruption – make sure you have sufficient time for any necessary journeys. Be aware public transport could be busier than normal, and could be targeted by protesters.
Vandalism – previous protests saw damage to shops, cars, monuments and other infrastructure. Avoid crowds where possible so you do not get caught up in this. Cars were set on fire – be aware the fire could spread, and that the smoke can be very harmful, especially to children and the elderly. There were reports of large stones being thrown as well.
Tear gas – the police responded to protests with tear gas. This can drift and cause health problems. This article sets out what to do if you are hit by tear gas.
If you are in the area, please consider the following –
- Avoid demonstrations and large crowds. Be aware clashes could occur without warning, so keep an eye on the movement of people.
- If you are driving, be aware that Gilets Jaunes may be protesting at toll booths, roundabouts, or transport hubs. Keep an eye out for people wearing high vis jackets, and drive carefully when in the vicinity of demonstrators. If in doubt, pull over somewhere safe and find an alternative route.
- Review your travel risk management plan, so you know what to do in an emergency.
- Make sure you have the contact information of your travel insurance company and your local embassy stored on your phone and in a secure offline location.
- Monitor local media. If you are using Twitter to search, add the term ‘filter:verified’ to the search bar to see results from verified accounts only. We have suggested some accounts to follow below.
- Keep your devices charged.
- Check in with friends and family.
- If something does happen, contact the local embassy as soon as it is safe to do so.
The US Embassy highlighted the following as useful English language news sources
- https://www.ratp.fr/travaux-manifestations/manifestations (for information on Metro closures)
Twitter accounts to follow
- Australian Ambassador Brendan Berne – @AusAmbFR
- British Embassy – @UKinFrance
- Canadian Embassy – @CanEmbFrance
- Irish Embassy – @IrlEmbParis
- U.S. Embassy – @USEmbassyFrance
Official travel advice
Protests are planned in #Paris and elsewhere around #France tomorrow. Remember to avoid areas where protests are taking place and check the latest travel advice from @dfatravelwise at https://t.co/2lCXMDOV7y #TravelWise pic.twitter.com/sSzbXXDq9x
— Irish Embassy Paris (@IrlEmbParis) January 11, 2019
#France Protests linked to the yellow vest (gilets jaunes) movement are planned for 12 and 13 January. You should avoid demonstrations wherever possible and follow the advice of local authorities. https://t.co/MViz3N78A5 pic.twitter.com/cYcWcBu7Yq
— FCO travel advice (@FCOtravel) January 11, 2019
#France Demonstration Alert: Saturday demonstrations by the “Gilets Jaunes” (yellow vests) are expected to continue. Previous demonstrations have become violent with police response including water cannons and/or tear gas. Avoid areas of demonstrations. https://t.co/ALbCLKCKwN pic.twitter.com/KVVryoSKnQ
— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) January 10, 2019
Further news and information
- Times of India: France bracing for bigger, more violent ‘yellow vests’ demos
- The Local France: Police in Paris fear bigger and more violent ‘yellow vest’ protest
- FRANCE 24: The women of France’s Yellow Vest movement
- Washington Post: Crowdfunding pits French police vs. yellow vest protesters
- The Local France: Q&A on France’s yellow vests: Why are they still protesting and who is to blame for the violence?
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