Household waste piles up on the pavement near Notre Dame Cathedral as waste collectors have been on strike since March 6 against proposed pension reforms by the French government.
“I’ve never seen this before,” says the surprised Canadian. In Paris, the world’s most visited city, a strike of collectors against unpopular pension reforms forces tourists to avoid trash piled up in iconic sites.
On the banks of the Seine, debris blocks the view of Notre Dame. In the heart of the capital he needs an abstraction to contemplate the famous cathedral, which was built from the 12th to his 14th century and was damaged by a fire in 2019.
Tourists hope to see the Eiffel Tower from the impressive Trocadero promenade, but upon exiting the metro, they must first pass through a wall of plastic bags. In the center, the once-romantic alleys are littered with boxes, cardboard boxes, and sometimes rotten food.
“I have never seen this in Canada,” said Omera, a Canadian tourist with pink dyed hair, after snapping a photo of the trash piled up in Saint Michel in the Latin Quarter. “This will keep tourists away!” he predicts.
“It’s disgusting,” laments Martin Lewis, an 18-year-old American. “The smell is unpleasant to eat food or walk around the city,” added Angeles Mosqueda, a Mexican tourist wearing a purple beret in front of the Opera Garnier in Paris.
German Claudia Hermand, accompanied by her “beloved” Frenchman, describes an unlikely “slalom through garbage” that “detracts a little from the city’s charm.” “It’s not great,” he admits with a smile.
The City of Light, which welcomed about 34.5 million tourists in 2022, according to authorities, has registered significant social dissatisfaction with reforms pushed by liberal President Emmanuel Macron, but three French citizens 2 people are against
After organizing massive demonstrations in January and February, unions ramped up their actions last week with extendable strikes in key sectors such as energy and transport to force the government to back down.
– “obviously not the best” –
In Paris, employees of the city’s garbage collection started a strike that affected half the capital more than a week ago and decided this Tuesday to extend it until March 20.
One of them, 44-year-old Nabil Latreche, denounces the fact that he has to work longer even though he has a “hard” job.
“We work in rain, snow or wind (…) when we are in the back of a truck we breathe volatiles. We have many occupational diseases,” he said. say.
When I retire, my pension will be no more than $1,280 and I will “live in poverty,” laments Murielle Gaeremynck, 56, a garbage collector for 20 years.
His colleagues at private companies operating in the rest of the capital face the closure of incineration plants. In total he has 6,600 tons of garbage accumulated on the streets and the amount is increasing every day.
While on vacation in Paris, thousands of tourists find themselves immersed in France’s social conflict. For Mark, who hails from Kansas, USA, empathy is relative.
“A strike doesn’t change anything. If you have to retire later, do it,” says the man, pushing the baby’s stroller.
Britain’s Olivia Stevenson, on the other hand, supports strikes “everywhere”, whether in France or recently in her country. Retirement and paychecks are important to a lot of people,” he explains.
“Obviously not the best place for foreign tourists,” admits Jean-François Real, president of the Paris Convention and Tourism Office, but it “does not spoil the image” of Paris. .
“Naples was not harmed even if garbage collection did not take place for two weeks,” he said, adding that the social conflict would not affect “the frequent visits of tourists to this wonderful city”. .