France’s beloved capital is known for chic ladies in berets, croissants, the picturesque Eiffel tower and quaint streets lined with storybook cafés. At least, that’s what you’d think the French capital is all about if you only ever saw artfully captured photos of it on social media. (Relatedly, here’s why you probably shouldn’t travel anywhere based on what you see on social media).
But those who are planning to visit the city for an Instagrammable springtime staycation might want to reconsider, unless they want to be faced with a harsh expectations-vs-reality situation.
Friday, March 24 marked the nineteenth day of the city’s garbage collectors’ industrial action, which is set to continue through to Monday 27. Heaps of trash have taken over the streets as the country protests President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to raise the country's retirement age from 62 to 64 for most workers, and from 57 to 59 for garbage collectors.
The president believes the new law will make the country’s pension system financially sustainable in the future. He pushed the legislation through the French parliament without a vote last week, angering citizens all over the country.
In addition to the endless mountains of bin bags, the rancid smell, and the disruptive protests taking over Paris, visitors might also run into some rats who, locals say, seem to be enjoying the new set-up.
With neither the unions behind the strikes nor the citizens prepared to back down, travellers might want to postpone their holiday and hope for a cleaner Paris in the summer.
In the meantime, Finland is offering free trips to teach people how to be happy.
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