Tourists urged not to cancel trips to Paris over ‘yellow vest’ violence fears

Tourists have no need to worry about coming to Paris in the run up to Christmas, the city's tourist board has told The Local, attempting to quell fears many visitors may have over the violent 'yellow vest' protests and the effect they would have on their trip.

Tourists urged not to cancel trips to Paris over 'yellow vest' violence fears
Photo: AFP
  • Readers should be aware that since this article was written the situation has changed with a much longer list of cultural sites set to close this weekend. CLICK HERE for the latest developments.
“It's important to remember that the protests are only happening in a small area of the city and during a limited time frame,” General manager of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau Corinne Menegaux told The Local. 
Menegaux's words come as many tourists are wondering whether now is the best time to visit the city after 'unprecedented violence' rocked the centre of the French capital last weekend and the French presidency has revealed it fears there will be 'major violence' this weekend as well at a time when the city's Christmas shopping season would normally be in full swing. 
However Mengaux says that tourists have nothing to worry about. 
“Everything, including museums, is open and functioning except the Arc de Triomphe,” she said. “It's a big city — there are lots of arrondissements to visit that will be completely untouched by the protests and other things to see while easily being able to avoid what is going on in the centre.”


Is it really wise for tourists to come to Paris in the run up to Christmas?Photo: AFP

“If people are really worried, I would suggest steering clear of the 8th arrondissement,” she said, referring to the area of the city where most of the violence occurred on Saturday and where the famous Arc de Triomphe monument became the epicentre of the clashes between protesters and police. 
Nevertheless, Menegaux did warn that it was likely there would be closures on Saturday, advising tourists to stay up to date with the latest information to avoid disappointment.
Paris tourist chiefs announced on Thursday morning that the Petit Palais, the Musee d'Art Moderne, Musée Cernuschi, Musée Cognacq-Jay, Maisons Victor Hugo, the Catacombs, the crypt of the Musee Carnavalet, Musée des Arts Décoratifs and Another Paris – Le petit train bleu will be closed due to the protests. 
Other shops, tourist sites and Metro stations around the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysées could also close on Saturday.



Menegaux also said she wasn't concerned and that it was “too early to tell” what the effect on tourism in the capital would be. 
“It has been a good year so far and it's a bit early to talk about what the effects [of the protests] will be,” she said. 
“So far, we haven't seen an unexpected dip in tourism, people are still booking.
“There is a lot of chaos in the world at the moment and I think people are used to it so it doesn't affect their holiday plans.”
ANALYSIS: The yellow rebellion is threatening to engulf France - Macron must act
Photo: AFP
However some representatives of the tourist industry in Paris have come out in recent days to voice their fears over the situation.
“The situation is catastrophic,” Didier Chenet president of the national association of independent hotel and catering businesses previously told The Local. 
“The cancellations are arriving in droves and at one of the most important times for tourism in Paris. It needs to stop.” 
The main thing to take into account is that tourists are not the target of protesters' anger. It is the government and those employed to keep law and order – the police.

Our readers offered their advice on the situation, with opinion divided on whether it was worth avoiding the capital at the moment. 
Katherine Watt said: “Don't cancel! Just choose your venues carefully. I live in 18th and all is good!”
One reader named Chris who lives in Paris said: “For starters, nobody in Paris spends much time on the Champs-Élysées. Most dread going there. The problems were highly concentrated in a small area. Montmartre was far away & calm and plenty of other fun areas were fine. It's easy to avoid the problem areas.”
However others pointed out that depending on what you want to see — and particularly if it's your first trip — you might want to cancel. 
“My wife and I are heading there Wednesday but taking an early train back to Lyon on Saturday. For first timers, now is not the time to go – wait until early spring,” said Jim Lockard. 

For those tourists who are already in Paris, you can follow updates on closures, security announcements and the effects on transport at the Paris tourist information account @ParisJeTaime on Twitter. 

Member comments

  1. If these people are prepared to desecrate a memorial to those who died defending their country, who knows what else is on their grubby list?

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Tourism minister: Book your French ski holiday now

France’s ski resorts will be open for business this winter, tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne has promised - but no decision has yet been taken on whether a health pass will be required to use ski lifts.

Skiers at a French Alpine resort
Photo: Philippe Desmazes / AFP

“This winter, it’s open, the resorts are open,” Lemoyne told France 2’s 4 Vérités programme.

“Compared to last year, we have the vaccine,” he said, adding that he would “invite those who have not yet done so to [book], because … there will soon be no more room.”

And he promised an answer ‘in the next few days’ to the question of whether health passes would be required for winter holidaymakers to use ski lifts. “Discussions are underway with the professionals,” he said.

The stakes are high: the closure of ski lifts last winter cost manufacturers and ski shops nearly a billion euros. 

This year ski lifts will remain open, but a health pass may be necessary to access them. The health pass is already compulsory for après ski activities such as visits to bars, cafés and restaurants.

COMPARE The Covid rules in place at ski resorts around Europe

Many town halls and communities which depend on winter sports have found it difficult or impossible to make ends meet.

“It’s time for the French mountains to revive,” Lemoyne said, pointing to the fact that the government has provided “more than €6 billion” in aid to the sector.

Winter tourism professionals, however, have said that they are struggling to recruit for the winter season.

“Restaurant and bars are very affected,” by the recruitment crisis, one expert told Franceinfo, blaming a lack of urgency from authorities towards the winter holiday industry.

“We are all asking ourselves what we should do tomorrow to find full employment in the resort,” the expert added.

Post-Brexit visa and work permit rules mean that ski businesses have found it difficult to recruit Brits for short-term, seasonal positions.