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France riots: What vacationers need to know as violent protests continue

France has seen a wave of massive protests over the last six months for a litany of reasons. This week, violent rioting following the death of a teen continued across the country, and on Thursday, air traffic controllers at Paris’ Beauvais Airport saw a complete shutdown of flights as travelers flock to the top tourism destination.

The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for France earlier this year due to “civil unrest,” when protests turned violent amid changes to the national retirement age. 

Issues relating to climate change and police brutality have also spurred nationwide protests that turned into violent riots as law enforcement struggle to cope with an increasingly frustrated population. 

France aerial protest crowds

People march during a demonstration Tuesday, March 28, 2023 in Paris. Protests are taking place in France on Tuesday. It is the latest round of nationwide demonstrations and strikes against unpopular pension reforms and President Emmanuel Macron’s push to raise France’s legal retirement age from 62 to 64. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)


However, travelers heading to Paris this week will have more to grapple with than avoiding large unruly crowds and political movements when vacationing in the top destination.

Air traffic controllers protesting working conditions at the Beauvais Airport – the main hub for Irish airline RyanAir and other budget airlines – saw all flights grounded Thursday according to Paris’s Le Monde newspaper.

The major airports like Charles de Gaulle and Orly have not yet been affected by strikes, which means travelers coming straight from the U.S. for the City of Light will likely not see disruptions to their flights this week.

Though they will still need to remain vigilant while touring France as the nation saw a fourth day of unrest following the deadly police shooting of an Algerian-Morroccan teenager during a traffic stop over the weekend in a Paris suburb. 

Some 40,000 police officers have been deployed across France as the unrest grows. Travelers should check where they are staying to ensure they abide by any curfews that may have been put in place through the weekend. 

Paris-Beauvais Airport strike

Passengers line to board a Ryanair plane at Paris-Beauvais Airport on June 20, 2023, in Tille, France. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


In a statement to Fox News Digital a State Department spokesperson said, “The U.S. Department of State has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas.”

“We encourage U.S. citizens traveling overseas to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, so they can receive important messages about their destination directly, including timely Alerts and updates to Travel Advisories, and to enable the U.S. Embassy to assist in an emergency,” the spokesman added. 

Eiffel Tower

Demonstrators holds banners as they gather on the place de la Concorde near the National Assembly to protest after French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne delivered a speech to announce the use of the article 49.3, a special clause in the French Constitution, to push the pensions reform bill through the lower house of parliament without a vote by lawmakers, in Paris March 16, 2023. (Reuters/Pascal Rossignol)

Last week, the department reissued a level two travel advisory warning to “Exercise increased caution in France due to terrorism and civil unrest.”

“Peaceful demonstration and strikes in Paris and other cities throughout France occur regularly and can disrupt transportation. On rare occasions, demonstrations have included violence and property damage and police have responded with water cannons and tear gas,” the department warned. 

French police fire tear gas back at protesters who are launching fireworks at them in Nanterre, outside of Paris

Police forces clash with youths in Nanterre, outside Paris, Thursday, June 29, 2023. The death of 17-year-old Nael by police during a traffic check Tuesday in the Paris suburb of Nanterre elicited nationwide concern and widespread messages of indignation and condolences. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 1,200 police were deployed overnight and 2,000 would be out in force Wednesday in the Paris region and around other big cities to “maintain order.” (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

The U.S. embassy in Paris also issued a warning Thursday to remind “U.S. citizens they should avoid mass gatherings and areas of significant police activity as they can turn violent and result in clashes” as the ongoing protests continue. 

“As always, it is a good practice to notify friends or family of your whereabouts,” the statement posted in a tweet added. “Affected U.S. citizens can contact the Embassy at any time for assistance: +33143122222.”

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