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LIFE IN PARIS

Foxes, rats and bats: What might be sharing your Paris Metro journey

The Paris Metro system can be pretty crowded at rush hour, but at least then it's only fellow humans that you need to worry about. When the Metro is quieter some more unusual travellers come out.

Foxes, rats and bats: What might be sharing your Paris Metro journey
Photo: AFP

Metro commuters last week were stunned to hear the announcement that services on Line 8 were disrupted – due to a fox on the tracks.

 

But foxes are just one of the animals that have made the dark tunnels of the Metro system their home.

“It's not unusual for foxes to use the Metro tunnels, they are quite nomadic, unlike humans, they are not afraid of the dark and are quite opportunistic; they go where they find food,” Vincent Vignon, an ecologist at the Office de génie écologique and author of a census of foxes in the capital, told French newspaper  Le Parisien.

There are a few other species lurking in the dark.

As with most parts of Paris, mice and rats live there and are a problem for city transport operator RATP.

Not because they freak out commuters – but because they have an unfortunate tendency to nibble through important wiring. 

RATP conducts regular campaigns of poisoning against the rats and mice in an attempt to keep the population down and damage to a minimum.

The have also been reports of weasels living in the tunnels and bats are a regular sight – enjoying the gloomy underground atmosphere.

Older commuters also recall hearing the noise of crickets in the Metro tunnels until the 1995 public transport strike.

The insects apparently arrived in France in sacks of bakers' flour from warmer countries and eventually moved into the warm, dark tunnels of the Metro where commuters would hear their distinctive singing noise.

But according to Frédéric Malher, regional delegate of the Ligue de protection des oiseaux en Île-de-France (society for the protection of birds in the Île-de-France region), the three-week Metro strike of 1995 sounded their death knell.

The lack of trains and commuters meant the temperatures in the tunnels fell and decimated the cricket population.

The ban on smoking on the Metro also eliminated one of their main sources of food – the cotton in cigarette butts – and now you are unlikely to hear the chirp of a cricket as you make your way home on the Metro.

READ ALSO The strange rules of the Paris Metro you probably should know about

 

 

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TRAVEL

Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed

Striking airport workers have blocked part Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, with some flights already delayed by at least one hour.

Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed
Striking airport workers outside Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt | AFP

Last month, trade unions representing workers at the Aéroports de Paris (ADP) – the city’s Charles-de-Gaulle-Roissy and Orly airports – called for a strike between July 1st and July 5th in an ongoing dispute between French airport workers and bosses over contract renegotiations.

A second wave of protests are expected next week, after a strike notice was filed for July 9th.

Tensions mounted on Friday morning as some 400 protesters staged a raucous demonstration at CDG’s terminal 2E, which mostly deals with flights outside the Schengen zone, as police officers looked on.

At Orly airport, meanwhile, some 250 people demonstrated “outside”, while a small group was inside.

The dispute is over a long-term plan by ADP to bring in new work contracts for employees at the airports, which unions say will lower pay, job losses and a reduction in rights and bonuses for employees.

The strike is being jointly called by the CGT, CFE-CGE, Unsa, CFDT and FO unions, who said in a joint press release that the proposals will “definitively remove more than a month’s salary from all employees and force them to accept geographical mobility that will generate additional commuting time”.

Unions say that staff face dismissal if they do not sign the new contracts.

ADP said on Wednesday that it expected ‘slight delays for some flights but no cancellations’ to services – but it urged travellers to follow its social media operations for real-time updates.

On Thursday, the first day of action, 30 percent of flights were delayed between 15 minutes and half-an-hour.

ADP’s CEO Augustin de Romanet had said on Tuesday that ‘everything would be done to ensure no flight is cancelled’. 

ADP reported a loss of €1.17 billion in 2020. 

Stressing that discussions are continuing over the proposed new contracts, the CEO called for “an effort of solidarity, with a red line: no forced layoffs.”

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