Paris tourists face severe disruption this weekend as Eiffel Tower and Louvre shut in face of violent protests

‘Our services are operating as normal and any exchanges are in line with ticket conditions,’ says Eurostar

 

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 07 December 2018 14:09
Comments
Simon Calder: Travellers for Paris this weekend set to encounter a city under siege with some key tourist attractions closed

Travellers for Paris this weekend will encounter a city under siege, with key tourist attractions – including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre – closed “due to exceptional circumstances” on Saturday.

French authorities are deploying 90,000 police and security forces across the country ahead of more anti-government riots and violence this weekend by the gilets jaunes protestors.

Armoured vehicles will also be on the streets of Paris.

The announced route of the march is from Place de la Bastille to the Arc de Triomphe, which goes through the heart of Paris, including the 1st, 4th and 8th arrondissements.

President Macron’s spokesman has warned of the prospect of “great violence”. During previous demonstrations vehicles have been overturned and set on fire, with police responding with tear gas.

The Foreign Office is telling British visitors: “In preparation for Saturday’s expected demonstrations, which may again turn violent, the authorities have announced that a number of museums and tourist sites in central Paris will be closed.

“Shops on the Champs Elysées and surrounding streets, as well as some Metro (underground) stations, will also be closed.”

Paris is normally very popular for pre-Christmas trips, with Christmas markets adding to the shopping options.

But prospective visitors are concerned by the continuing violent demonstrations.

Eurostar, which runs trains from London St Pancras to Paris, said: “Our services are operating as normal and any exchanges are in line with ticket conditions.”

One reader, who did not want to be named, is booked with Eurostar to Paris on Saturday. He said: “I find Eurostar’s stance a strange one. They are transporting hundreds of extra people over who will mostly be on the streets getting in the way.

“All I would like is to be able to rebook my trip at no extra cost.. Eurostar won’t do anything and the fees alone to change the tickets are worth more than what I paid originally.”

Lucy Abi Smith commented on Eurostar’s Facebook: “Is anyone else doubting Paris?

“They can wreck half landmarks with graffiti, set buildings and cars on fire!! Also told Xmas markets may be cancelled as will be damaged.”

Tourists who have booked specific package trips for events which will not now be taking place – such as the performances on Saturday by the Paris Opera – are entitled to full refunds.

The city-break specialist, Kirker Holidays, is rebooking clients to avoid the need for anyone to travel on Saturdays.

“Departures leave a day early, and new arrivals are rebooked to travel a day late,” said the managing director, Ted Wake. “But it depends on the precise circumstances and client’s wishes.”

The UK’s biggest budget airline, easyJet, told The Independent: “For those passengers who wish change their booking we will waive any change fee.” Travellers can contact the airline if they have concerns.

“At this stage, we do not have any customer demand in this sense justifying such measures. We are monitoring the situation.”

The US Embassy in Paris has provided comprehensive advice for American citizens, urging them to “consider relocating in advance to another area”.

It adds: “Maintain easy access to passports and other documents, prescription medicine, infant formula, and chargers for electronics.”

Outside Paris, the Foreign Office warns: “Related demonstrations are likely to occur in other towns and cities across the country.

“Motorists travelling through France may also experience delays or blockages caused by demonstrators at motorway toll booths.”

Hoteliers and restaurateurs across France are reporting lower-than-usual sales at a time when they should be making substantial profits.

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