• France's news in English

Taxis versus Uber battle turns ugly in France

Ben McPartland · 23 Jun 2015, 15:49

Published: 23 Jun 2015 15:49 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Tensions have been rising in recent weeks between Uber and French taxi drivers, who are increasingly taking the battle against the Californian-based firm into their hands.

Their anger is focused on the UberPop service, which allows ordinary drivers to effectively become taxi drivers by connecting them to customers through a smartphone app.

Taxi drivers have a long list of grievances against the UberPop app, but chief among them currently is that despite the government ruling it illegal, the service has been allowed to continue.

At the weekend their frustrations boiled over in the city of Lyon when a client of UberPop was allegedly beaten up by a mob of cabbies.

The 26-year-old, named Alexandre, was attacked after saying to a taxi driver that “it wasn’t surprising that clients preferred Uber” after being told he could not get in the cabbie’s car because he was on strike – against Uber.

As he tried to use the UberPop app to find a driver, the young man says he was punched by at least two different people and was left with fractures to his jaw and nose.

He posted a photo of himself on Twitter to show the damage done by the taxi drivers.

The taxi drivers’ union has insisted however that there is no proof that any of its drivers were involved in the assault.

That same night an UberPop driver was also surrounded by taxi drivers, abused, and had his car vandalised.

The local prefecture in Lyon had banned the UberPop service on Thursday to avoid any outbreak of trouble and to ensure the safety of passengers.

As French newspaper Liberation pointed out, the move failed on both accounts.

The incident in Lyon is just the latest and most graphic evidence of how tensions are escalating. Five taxi drivers are being held in the southern city of Nice after reportedly attacking an UberPop driver.

IN PICTURES: French taxi drivers' anti-Uber protest turns violent


After UberPop launched its service in Marseille earlier this month, taxi drivers immediately blockaded the firm's HQ in the city.

Drivers were reportedly spat at and abused and surrounded in their cars, some of which were covered in paint or eggs.

There have been reports of taxi drivers organizing traps to catch UberPop drivers by signing up to the app and ordering a ride.

Andre Chiguian, from the National Federation of Taxi Drivers has called for calm: "We are not in Afghanistan or Iraq, we are in France and we reject violence" he told BFM TV.

But Uber shows no sign of backing down. By rolling out its service in Marseille, Strasbourg and Nantes, after already having set up in other cities like Paris and Lyon, the firm wants to put pressure on French authorities to allow it to continue.

Story continues below…

UberPop is technically illegal in France, thanks to a new raft of laws brought in last year.

However the company is appealing a €100,000 ($113,000) fine it received last year.

The court of appeal has put back its decision until September meaning parent company Uber is still permitted to run the app. The court of appeal may decide to transfer the decision to France's Constitutional Council.

Under the Thévenoud law introduced on January 1st, French police are allowed to hand out fines if they catch the Uberpop drivers - hundreds of whom have been penalised.

But an UberPop driver was recently cleared of any wrongdoing in a French court, adding further frustration for taxi drivers.

Tensions show no sign of easing anytime soon with taxi drivers planning more protests and strikes across the country on Thursday.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available