Hi guys, how are you all doing today? As you might have guessed from the title, today is going to be a relatively serious post.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you should have at least heard about the gilets jaunes in France. They are a group of about 150,000 people around the country protesting about rising fuel costs and tax hikes. One thing I should mention is that the French love to strike. This isn’t me throwing shade or anything, it’s common knowledge. And apparently it’s quite normal for strikes like this to occur soon after a new president is elected.
The reason these strikes have hit the headlines more this time around is because in some places they have turned very violent. In Paris, for example, cars have been set alight, windows smashed, riot police brought in. Where I am, in Clermont-Ferrand, it’s been mostly peaceful. The strikers have been blocking traffic in the main square, there are some in a makeshift camp just off a main roundabout, and they’ve occasionally forced the shopping centre to close and the tram to stop running. However, in recent days it’s become more tense. Just yesterday, I was in Centre Jaude, and out of nowhere a large group of protesters came marching in. For security, the doors to the Jaude shopping centre were locked, and in places the shutters put down. But, this meant the shoppers currently inside were trapped until further notice.
As with any protest, once people start joining in without fully understanding the cause, things can get hairy. Yesterday, a big group of teenagers and young adults ran through groups of shoppers, shouting ‘This is France’ and other things in French. Don’t get me wrong, I like when young people get involved and help shape their country, but when you have a massive group of tall, strong men running towards you yelling at the top of their voices, it’s no wonder many people are scared. I saw armed riot police with batons, on the lookout for any unruly protesters.
Like I said, it’s not like this everywhere, and it tends to be worse in the main cities, where there are more people to get involved. Don’t let this put you off France, though. It’s still a beautiful country, but just know that if you hear of major protests while you’re here, stay safe and never let yourself get caught in the middle of it.
I’ll leave this post here, as a notice about the protests happening currently, and my normal post will be up soon. Thank you for reading, and if you’re in France, stay safe.