Paris during a grève

There can be nothing more frustrating than a strike  in the country when you’re travelling. Especially a strike that lasts for days and weeks at end.

In a city, where everyone relies on public transport, an unending strike of the RATP, which manages the bus and metro network, is a big deal. It’s a bigger deal, if you’re like me, and are travelling without international roaming enabled (thus no data) and don’t even have the Uber app on your phone. So how do you ensure that your trip doesn’t go down the drain? 

You plan every move very meticulously…and you walk! Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk till you drop! 

When we were looking for accommodation in Paris, we came across some really nice hotels and gorgeous apartments in AirBnB, and actually spent several days deliberating over the different areas. It had to be some place close to one of the airport shuttle stops, preferably close to a metro station and either on the first floor, or in a building with an elevator (think big suitcases that you have to lug up and down several flights of stairs). 

We finally decided to look at places near the Gare de Lyon, from where we could not only get the airport shuttle, but also take the train to Grenoble. The icing on the cake was that there was a metro station right outside our apartment! Fat load of good that did us!!! 

With a flight delayed by over two hours and the AirBnb host waiting to check us in, we had to skip the airport shuttle (making that a moot point) and splurge on a taxi the minute we got to Paris. Taxis were running as usual when we landed, but we had already reserved a taxi on one of the several services that have mushroomed in the last few years. We were picked up at our arrival gate and dropped to the AirBnb at the same price as a regular Paris taxi.

Our second reason for choosing an apartment close to Gare de Lyon also became moot when our train to Grenoble was cancelled. Fortunately the Bercy Gare Routière (bus stop) was also a short walk from the apartment, which turned out to be a blessing. (You can read about that experience here.) 

And for the rest, we walked! Luckily, we didn’t want to do anything on the usual tourist route of Arc de Triomphe, Champs Élysées, Notre Dame, Louvre and Eiffel Tower. We would have gone there if the metros were running properly, but we hadn’t even put them our Paris wish list, so it turned out quite alright for us. What we did have on our wish list, was luckily within “walking distance”!

So we walked to Bastille, we walked to the Atelier des Lumières, we walked to Station F, we walked everywhere we could…and when we couldn’t walk, we took the bus. It meant more planning, and it meant leaving earlier, because the buses were crowded, and obviously took longer, circuitous routes, but we eventually got to our destination.

A word of caution: keep your belongings close to you when you’re boarding a crowded bus or metro in Paris…pickpockets are a reality, and prone to taking advantage of situations like this when people are harassed and public transport is more crowded than normal, as we discovered on our last day.

My advice to anyone travelling to France in the future?
✨ Choose your accommodation very, very wisely. Make sure you are close to most of the places on your bucket list.
✨Look at the arrondissements closest to the things you want to do. You might pay more, but you’ll save tons of money wasted on Uber…spend that money on food and wine instead! And even if the RATP isn’t « en grève » it’s always nicer to walk in Paris!
✨ Walk, look around, follow those road signs, and you might not even realise that there is an important strike going on!
✨ If you’re not traveling in winter, cycling is also an excellent option. There are lots of platforms from where you can hire a cycle, or a trottinette. You can even get a segue, if you’re up for the challenge!
✨And of course, make sure you have a solid backup plan for getting to and from the airport…
✨….and oh yeah, cross those fingers!

Bon courage et bon voyage! ✈️ 🚇 🚖 

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