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Reader Question: Can I take a taxi during a French strike?

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
Reader Question: Can I take a taxi during a French strike?
A taxi sign is illuminated in green in Paris (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

If you're coming to France during a strike you may find that your public transport options are limited - but what's the situation with taxis?

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Strikes in France often target public transport services, and on strike days you may find that trains, buses or city Metro systems are either closed or running reduced services.

As a result, many visitors wonder if taxis can offer a reliable alternative, or if they too are typically impacted by industrial action?

READ MORE: Six ways to get around Paris without public transport

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Typically, taxi drivers strike when there are political or legislative events that impact them specifically.

For example in 2019, taxi drivers held a 'go-slow' protest along Paris' ring road (beltway) to protest a new law that they saw as favouring VTCs (ride shares, such as Uber). Since then, there have not been significant, countrywide protests by taxi drivers, though smaller events, more localised have occurred. 

However, during the pension strikes of 2019 and 2023 - which severely impacted trains and city public transport - there were not widespread taxi driver walkouts.

As such, taxis are often a strong alternative option for transport during large scale strikes in France, but there are a few things to be aware of. 

First, during widespread industrial action in France, there are often protests and demos that happen simultaneously. This means that there may be road closures, particularly in the central parts of French cities. Once the protest is over, police will reopen roads once it is safe to do so.

While this does not mean that you will not be able to take a taxi in a French city during a protest or strike, it does mean that you should expect some delays. 

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There may also be increased traffic during a French strike, as more people opt to drive.

You ought to also consider the fact that strikes tend to drive up demand for taxi services, so it may take you longer than usual to order one.

Finally, you should keep in mind that some strike tactics used are 'operations escargots' - what we might refer to in English as a rolling roadblock. Oftentimes, this is carried out by workers who rely on their vehicles for a living - such as hauliers (truck drivers) or farmers - driving very slowly along a road causing huge tailbacks behind them.

They're a popular tactic among French unions, protest groups and organisations so if you see that an opération escargot is planned, you know to find an alternative route.

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What about Uber or other ride shares? 

You may also opt for an Uber or another ride share to get around during a French strike. In comparison to taxis, Uber and other ride shares might be more easy and efficient to book during a strike. 

One thing to consider, however, is that Uber may raise fees during periods of high demand, like strikes. Surge pricing means that rides often end up more expensive than a normal cab.

READ MORE: The alternatives to taking taxis when visiting Paris

Fixed tariffs are one benefit to taking a taxi during a strike. Taking Paris for example, licensed Paris taxi drivers charge three tiers of rates based on the time of day and whether it is a bank holiday or not. 

Tariff A is from 10 am to 5 pm except on Sundays and public holidays, with the price per kilometre set at €1.14 and a maximum hourly rate at €36.02 (if the speed is less than 31.79 km/h).

Tariff B is in effect from 5 pm to 10 pm (rush hour and nighttime) and Sundays from 7 am to midnight, as well as public holidays the whole day. The price for this tariff is €1.53 per kilometre, with an hourly rate of €49.10 (if the speed is less than 28,89 km/h). 

Last but not least is tariff C which is in place on Sundays from 12 am to 7am, with a price of €1.70 per kilometre and an hourly rate of €38.30 (if the speed is less than 21.76 km/h).

There are also fixed rates for Paris taxis when it comes to travel to and from the airports just outside of the city - Charles de Gaulle and Orly.

You can find more information about how to take a taxi in Paris HERE.

READ MORE: What you need to know about taking a taxi in Paris

How likely is it that I will be caught up in a strike while visiting France?

Industrial action is commonplace in France - the country has had a rail strike every year for 72 years since 1947, according to the state-owned SNCF railway company. In 2019, strikes against pension reform beat previous records, as rail workers walked out for over a month.

While French picket lines might be noisy, violence is rare and violence directed at passers-by who are not involved in the dispute is vanishingly rare.

But it is worth noting that if you are looking to visit France, there is a chance that it could be during a strike, and if you are thinking about cancelling your trip, you might want to first read through this guide by The Local to help you make a more informed decision.

READ MORE: Should you cancel a trip to France because of strikes and demos?

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