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Navigating Travel Plans Amid French Protests - July 2023

In travel news for July 14, 2023 we have an update on the recent unrest in France and the effect on travel.

Frequent reports of violent Protests have been coming in from French cities, leaving potential travelers uncertain about their forthcoming travel plans. Protests were ignited following the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old during a police traffic stop on June 27. Major cities such as Paris witnessed consecutive nightly violent protests, culminating in the arrest of around 850 individuals over the first weekend in July.

Although serious unrest seems to have abated since then, sporadic incidents, including an event where a peaceful protestor was tackled by the police, keep the concern for potential flare-ups alive. With today being Bastille Day, police are particularly watchful of rising tensions.

In an attempt to maintain peace, the French government imposed a ban on the sale, possession, and use of fireworks, which were used during violent confrontations with the police earlier. The ban is set to be enforced until tomorrow. Despite the ban, the primary fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower in Paris will proceed as scheduled. Visitors should expect an augmented police presence on French streets for the next few days.

The violent demonstrations have highlighted long-standing anger over police actions and racial profiling in France's multi-ethnic and low-income suburbs. A high number of individuals were killed during police traffic stops last year, the majority of whom were of black or Arab origin.

Several major cities, including Paris, Marseille, Lyon, and others, have seen their share of violent demonstrations, with cars set ablaze and shops looted. However, there have been no further incidents since the beginning of this month.

If you are considering travel to France in the near future, it is crucial to stay informed. Millions of tourists visit France annually, most of whom experience no issues. The government is advising travelers to monitor media, check the latest advice from travel operators, and follow the advice of the authorities. In the event of further unrest, road travel disruptions, reduced local transport options, and potential curfews may be imposed.

During the height of the riots, buses and trams halted their operations by 9 or 10 pm in certain cities to avoid becoming targets. Trains, however, continued to run as usual. Foreign offices in countries such as United Kingdom and Germany advise against travel to trouble hotspots and recommend staying informed via various apps.

Depending on your situation and comfort level there may be no need to cancel your travel plans to France, though flexibility may be required depending on the situation. France's rich culture and sunny coastlines remain unaffected in many areas. And while incidents have targeted buildings, parked cars, and the police, no reports suggest any attacks on tourists or members of the public.

It is, however, critical to ensure that your Travel Insurance provides sufficient coverage. If the situation worsens, certain airlines may waive change fees, allowing passengers to transfer to an alternative flight. Always remember, a well-informed traveler is a safe traveler.

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