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France facts: Snails need a ticket to travel on a train

Travelling by train in France is usually a great experience (when there isn't a strike on) - but did you know that you need a ticket not just for yourself but also for all non-human companions?

France facts: Snails need a ticket to travel on a train
Photo: sailor/Depositphotos

Now you might think – why would anyone want to take a snail on a train? (Unless it was in a lunchbox as a tasty snack of course.) And that would be a fair question.

But French rail operator SNCF has strict rules for animals – you can take a pet with you on all French domestic services (although not the Eurostar) but it needs a ticket.

There is even a pricing structure, with pets weighing less than 6kg travelling on a flat fare of €7, while for larger pets it depends how far they are going. Animals weighing over 6kg also need to have a muzzle.

What has all this got to do with snails? Well in 2008 a TGV passenger was discovered carrying live snails in his luggage, and fined for travelling without a ticket for his animals (although after the case became a national news story the fine was waived).

SNCF also specifies that you must stay with your pet dog, cat or snail throughout the journey and if applicable the pet was be carrying identification.

Guide dogs are the exception to this and travel free, although there is no such exemption for emotional support animals, so however comforting your pet snail may be, he or she still needs a ticket.

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France Facts: Paris once had a ‘strike square’

The French have something of an international reputation for being fond of a strike - but did you know that Paris once had a Place de Grève (strike square)?

France Facts: Paris once had a 'strike square'

But in this case the French did not name the square after one of their favourite activities, in fact it was the other way round.

The Place de Grève, in central Paris next to the Seine, was the place where unemployed workers gathered, seeking casual labour.

Over time grève came to signify a group of people who were not working.

After the French won the right to strike in 1864 – 20 years before they won the right to form a union – the word attached itself to workers who were choosing to without their labour, rather than people who were unable to find work.

These days the French are quite fond of une grève, and between 2010 and 2017, the number of French strike days was 125 per 1,000 employees, according to a study by the European Trade Union Institute.

As a comparison, the UK, Germany and Sweden had 20, 17 and 3 respectively. 

The Place de Grève still exists, but in 1802 it was renamed the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville and houses the very impressive city hall of Paris.

The square's other claim to fame is that it used to be where public executions took place, and saw the first public use of the guillotine when robber Nicolas Jacques Pelletier was executed on April 25th, 1792.

And France has seen one or two strikes since 1864.

 

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