Stormy weather

17 10 2010

You’ve got to love the French passion for protest.

We’ve flown into a country inflamed by anger at their government for daring to meddle with their beloved pension program for seniors. In France, it seems, you can retire as early as 60 years old with a reduced government pension. It’s no wonder the sidewalk cafés are always busy, even on work days; everyone is retired!

 

Those storm clouds over Paris aren't just from the weather.

 

But that’s starting to cost the country money it no longer has. So the Zarkozy government wants to raise the retirement age to 62, and up to 67 for a full-ride pension.

That doesn’t sit too well with the populace, who value their café time.

So they protest by going on strike, further crowding the tourists out of the cafés.

In the past month, a number of general strikes have shut down the rail system across the country, the Metro in Paris, the airports. Currently, the oil refineries are on strike. Nervous motorists are lining up at gas stations to make sure they can get fuel. Apparently the airports are running short.

Somehow, we’ve managed to avoid all that.

Instead, it’s the Belgians who’ve jumped us and bit us on the butt.

It seems their rail workers are in the middle of contract negotiations, and they’re not happy with how they’re going.So Monday, they walk out for the day. That also happens to be the day we booked our train from Paris to Brussels.

C'est la vie. When in France...

Thalys, the Belgian high-speed train service, says they’ll honor our tickets on Sunday or Tuesday. Not wanting to risk escalation of their strike action, we’re leaving Paris early.

 

 

Right now, being in Europe feels a little like being in the eye of a hurricane. What with terrorist threats and labor strife all around us, we were hopeful everything would just blow around us.