France During Political Unrest. Source: Depositphotos.com
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Last Updated: 24 March 2023

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Travelling to France can be an incredible experience, with its rich culture, stunning architecture, delicious food and wine. However, there may be times when political unrest, such as strikes, demonstrations, or petrol shortages, can make travelling to France more challenging. While it may be tempting to postpone or cancel your trip, there are many reasons why you should still consider visiting France during these times. In this article, we'll provide 18 tips on how to make the best of your trip to France during political unrest. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, these tips will help you navigate the challenges and enjoy your vacation to the fullest. So, let's get started!

A word of caution!

Although we have provided helpful tips and information to help you navigate a trip to France during political unrest, it is essential to note that political situations can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous. While we do our best to provide accurate and up-to-date information, we cannot guarantee the safety of any traveller. French Moments cannot be held liable or responsible for any loss, damage, injury, or other issues arising during your travels in France during political unrest. It is always essential to stay informed, exercise caution, and make informed decisions when travelling to any country.

Why would you visit France during political unrest?

Yes, what a weird idea! Although, despite the challenges of political unrest, there are still plenty of reasons to consider travelling to France. Here are a few:

Experience French culture and history

Political unrest often dissuades tourists from visiting a destination, resulting in fewer crowds. This can mean shorter lines at popular tourist sites and a more relaxed, authentic experience.

Provided that these public sites stay open during strikes, bien sûr!

Queue at the Louvre © French Moments

A extremely long queue at entrance to the Louvre © French Moments

Witness historical events

During political unrest, France has often been at the centre of historical events that have shaped the country and even the world. Being in France during these events can provide a unique perspective and insight into the political climate and its impact on society.

Arc de Triomphe Bastille Day © French Moments

The Arc de Triomphe on Bastille Day © French Moments

Live authentic experiences

Political unrest can often disrupt daily life and force locals to find new ways to adapt to changing circumstances.

For example, public transportation may be disrupted during a strike, and locals may have to find alternative ways to get around, such as biking or walking. This can lead to unique experiences for travellers, such as exploring the city on foot or renting a bike to explore the countryside.

Additionally, political unrest may lead to changes in local traditions and events.

For example, during a protest, locals may organise impromptu concerts or street performances to express their opinions or provide a sense of unity. As a traveller, you may have the opportunity to witness or even participate in these events, providing a unique and authentic experience you may have yet to experience during a more stable time.

However, it's important to be aware of safety concerns and to stay informed of potential risks, but if you plan accordingly, you can still have an enriching and memorable trip.

France during political unrest - Annecy Venetian Carnival © French Moments

The Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) at the Annecy Carnival © French Moments

Support the local economy

During times of political unrest, many hotels and tour operators may offer discounts or special deals to attract travellers.

However, when social conflicts disrupt everyday life, it can be tough on small businesses and the local economy. Unknowingly to most travellers, visiting France during these times can help support local businesses and communities while also boosting the country's tourism industry.

Meursault in Burgundy © French Moments

The local boulangerie-pâtisserie in Meursault © French Moments

How to prepare for the trip

Travelling to France during political unrest requires preparation and planning to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

You'll better prepare for your trip and reduce the likelihood of encountering unpleasant surprises. Remember to stay flexible, keep an eye on the latest developments, and have a backup plan in case of disruptions.

Here are some tips on how to prepare and enjoy a safe and memorable trip to France:

Research the current situation

Before travelling to France, research the current situation regarding any strikes, demonstrations, or other forms of political unrest. You can check with your embassy or consulate for the latest updates and advisories.

Now is a question that often arises: at which point would it be inadvisable for tourists to travel to France during political unrest?

It's difficult to answer this question specifically as it depends on the level of political unrest and safety concerns at a given time and location.

Travellers need to stay informed of the current situation through reputable news sources and government travel advisories. If there are safety concerns or a high risk of violence or unrest, postponing your trip or choosing a different destination may be advisable. 

Additionally, travellers with pre-existing health conditions or mobility issues may want to consider the potential impact of disruptions to public transportation or other services.

Ultimately, the decision to travel during political unrest should be based on a careful assessment of the risks and benefits and prioritise the traveller's safety and well-being.

Mulhouse - France During Political Unrest. Source: Depositphotos.com

Protest in Mulhouse. Source: Depositphotos.com

Don't always believe the hype

It might not surprise everyone to say that media coverage can often exaggerate events and make it seem like the entire country is under fire during political unrest. In reality, protests and strikes may be localised to certain areas, and the whole country is unlikely to be impacted. It's essential to stay informed and get information from various sources, including local news outlets, to get a more accurate picture of what's happening.

Furthermore, it's worth noting that while political unrest can be unsettling and disruptive, it's usually safe as long as travellers take the necessary precautions and stay informed about potential risks.

France is a popular tourist destination with much to offer, and visitors can still have an enjoyable and safe trip even during political turmoil. Overall, the most important thing is to exercise common sense, stay informed, and be flexible in your travel plans (as we'll explain below). By doing so, travellers can still have a rewarding and memorable experience in France despite any political unrest that may be occurring.

Strasbourg - France During Political Unrest. Source: Depositphotos.com

Strasbourg - France During Political Unrest. Source: Depositphotos.com

Be flexible with travel plans

Political unrest can lead to transportation and other service disruptions. Be prepared for delays or changes to your travel plans due to unexpected events.

Paris - France During Political Unrest. Source: Depositphotos.com

Paris - France During Political Unrest. Source: Depositphotos.com

Work on a backup plan

In case of disruptions, have a backup plan for accommodation, transportation, and other essential services. This can include booking refundable reservations or considering alternative modes of transportation.

Lyon Old Town © French Moments

The roofs of the Vieux-Lyon © French Moments

Avoid disruptions by flying into neighbouring countries

If you plan to visit France during political unrest, consider alternative ways to reach your destination. One option is to fly into neighbouring countries such as Switzerland or Germany and travel overland into France. This can be particularly helpful when visiting border regions like Alsace or the Alps.

Flying into a neighbouring country can help you avoid potential travel disruptions due to strikes or protests that may be occurring in France. For example, suppose you're planning to visit Alsace, and rail strikes are happening in France. In that case, it may be easier to fly into Zurich, Switzerland or Frankfurt, Germany and then take a train or rental car into Alsace instead of travelling directly into France.

When planning your trip, research transportation options and routes allowing you to travel smoothly into France.

Salève mountain Lake Geneva

Geneva (Switzerland) has an airport at the border with France © French Moments

Keep abreast of the latest news and updates

Stay informed about any developments in the political situation during your trip. This can help you adjust your plans accordingly and avoid potential safety risks.

Consider travel insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance that covers unexpected events such as political unrest or travel disruptions.

Online Jobs in France. Photo Pressmaster via Envato Elements

Photo Pressmaster via Envato Elements

Pack wisely

Bring essential items like medication, extra cash, and a copy of your passport in case of emergency, and pack light to make it easier to move around if you need to change your plans.

Akra the Arcido travel bag (Granier) © French Moments

Akra the Arcido travel bag (French Alps) © French Moments

Tips for travelling in France during political unrest

Travelling in France during political unrest can be challenging, but with the right approach, you can still enjoy your French trip. Once in the country facing political unrest, follow the following tips:

Stay informed

Keep abreast of the latest news and updates on the political situation. This can help you avoid potential safety risks and adjust your plans accordingly.

Best phone plan when travelling in France - Stock Photos from LDprod - Shutterstock

Stock Photos from LDprod - Shutterstock

Stay safe

Stay away from areas where protests or demonstrations occur, and avoid potentially dangerous situations.

If you encounter protests or demonstrations, avoid getting too close or engaging in confrontations. It's essential to stay safe and avoid potential risks to your well-being.

Online Jobs in France. Photo Prostock-studio via Envato Elements

Photo Prostock-studio via Envato Elements

Stay connected

Ensure you have a working phone or other means of communication to stay in touch with friends, family, and travel partners in case of emergencies.

If your phone is unlocked, consider purchasing a local SIM card to make local calls and use data while in France. This can be a cost-effective way to stay connected without raising high roaming charges.

Before you leave for France, download offline maps to your phone, so you can navigate even if you don't have cellular data or Wi-Fi.

Best phone plan when travelling in France © French Moments

© French Moments

Use public transportation (when possible)

Stick to reputable airlines, trains, and other forms of transportation to minimize the risk of disruptions or delays.

During times of political unrest, public transportation can be less affected than other forms of transportation (providing that the staff is not on strike!).

Nancy Railway Station and TGV Est-Européen © French Moments

TGV in Nancy © French Moments

Be respectful

It's essential to respect the local culture and the political situation. Avoid making provocative statements or engaging in any behaviour that could be disrespectful or insensitive. If you do encounter protests or demonstrations, avoid engaging with locals who may be upset or angry...

France During Political Unrest. Source: Depositphotos.com

France During Political Unrest. Source: Depositphotos.com

Have a backup plan

As mentioned earlier, it's important to have a backup plan in case of disruptions or unexpected events that might occur during your stay. It could be events that you did not foresee when planning your trip. This can include booking refundable reservations or considering alternative modes of transportation.

Akra the Arcido travel bag (Granier) © French Moments

© French Moments

Making the most of your trip

While travelling to France during political unrest can present some challenges, it can also be an opportunity to experience the country uniquely. Here are some tips for making the most of your trip:

Embrace the local culture

Take the time to immerse yourself in the local culture and customs. Try the local cuisine, explore historical landmarks, and engage with locals to better appreciate the country and its people.

Alpine Festival of Annecy 2022 © French Moments

Annecy © French Moments

Explore off-the-beaten-path destinations

During times of political unrest, some popular tourist destinations may be crowded or disrupted. My best advice is to head to the French countryside and avoid the country's largest cities and towns. Consider exploring lesser-known destinations off the beaten path to experience a more authentic and less touristy side of France.

romantic destinations in France: La Rochepot © French Moments

The castle of La Rochepot (Burgundy) © French Moments

Enjoy the outdoors

France offers plenty of natural beauty, from stunning coastlines to picturesque countryside. Take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors by hiking, biking, or stroll.

Near Toul, Lorraine © French Moments

Near Toul, Lorraine © French Moments

Stay positive

Remember to stay positive and keep an open mind during your trip. (This tip has proven the most challenging for me!) Political unrest can be stressful, but by maintaining a positive attitude and embracing the unique experiences that come with it, you can still have a memorable and enjoyable trip.

Paris French Flag by RossHelen via Envato Elements

Photo: RossHelen via Envato Elements

France During Political Unrest: Conclusion

Travelling to France during political unrest can be challenging, but it can also be an opportunity to experience the country uniquely. Following the tips outlined in this article, you can better prepare for your trip, stay safe, and make the most of your time in France.

Things to remember

Remember to stay informed about the current situation, be flexible with your travel plans, and have a backup plan in case of disruptions. When travelling during political unrest, staying safe, respectful, and maintaining a positive attitude is essential.

Despite the challenges, there are plenty of reasons to visit France during political unrest. From experiencing the local culture to exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations and taking advantage of cultural events, many unique opportunities exist.

Keep an open mind

By keeping an open mind and embracing the unique experiences of travelling during political unrest, you can have a memorable and enjoyable trip to France. So why start planning your next adventure today?

Monuments of Paris - Eiffel Tower © French Moments

Monuments of Paris - Eiffel Tower © French Moments

About the illustrations in the article

Most of the photos are ours (© French Moments). However, I have selected some photos (including the Featured Image of this article) from Depositphotos, a commercial platform that brings authors of high-quality licensed stock photos, graphics, vectors and videos together with appreciative buyers. 

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About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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