You know you’re in France when…

Certain things probably spring to mind when you think of France.  Baguettes,  pains au chocolat and yummy pastries  Pompidou and de Gaulle.  The Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.  Wine and cheese.

Ask a français or an expat and they would probably add:  le mouvement social(aka the strike).  It’s a popular activity among the French.  Love it or leave it; it’s a part of life in this country.  And you need to get used to it if you plan on spending any time in this country.

D and I were re-initiated into this ritual on Monday morning after arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport.  The first sign of things to come occurred when the flight crew announced that we had to wait for them to bring the stairs to the plane.  (We arrived at terminal 2E.)  We had to wait as a part of the ground crew were on strike.  Fine.

After a brief 10 min wait, we were finally allowed to get off the plane where we boarded a bus to the terminal.  What followed could only be termed la galère (something that makes your head feel like it’s going to explode).

At 8:15 am we arrived at the carousel 31 where our luggage was to arrive.  In our ears rang the words of the sweet airport lady: due to a “mouvement social” there will be a delay in the delivery of the luggage.  Sure.

Did you note the time in the above paragraph?

At 11:15 am — yes, 3 mind-numbing hours later — after several consultations with the not-so-helpful staff at the airport, an announcement was made stating that the luggage from our flight was just being loaded for delivery to the terminal.  About 30 mins later, another announcement was made.  This time, we were told that the luggage was on its way.  Okay.

About 45 mins later, we were then told that our luggage was lost.  Right.

Are you also wondering how they could have lost that much luggage?  Or, where could they have lost the luggage?  After all, it had arrived in France, right?

It turns out the luggage wasn’t lost.  The entire plane load of luggage was delivered to another room and stacked up on trolleys.  No one, except the striking baggage crew, seemed aware that the luggage had been stacked up awaiting their owners.  And, we figured the luggage had been there for at least 2.5 hours.

So, if you’re thinking of moving to or visiting France be prepared.  Anything can happen.  Bienvenue en France!

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Categories: everyday stuff, strike

Author:Tanya in Transition

I am a woman in transition. I left my job of 13 years to find happiness and France!

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8 Comments on “You know you’re in France when…”

  1. January 18, 2011 at 11:12 AM #

    Oh lordy. That makes me tired just reading it. I’m still sloughing off jetlag and am very thankful by the time I rolled in I could just get my bags and go. (Also, that I had made it at all! Due to weather, a few airport staff in the States had told me my connecting flight to Paris wouldn’t be operating and I’d be better off staying where I was. Like actively encouraging me to not take the first flight….but everything was fine with the flight to Paris. Imagine if I had listened to them!)

    Anyway, all of my travel plans last fall were affected by strikes. Yep, welcome back! Glad you finally got your luggage, but man, the reports from CDG are never pretty!

    • January 20, 2011 at 3:33 PM #

      Yeah, it was an exhausting day. Just thinking about it makes my head hurt.
      Good thing you did your own thing and ignored the “advice” and vive la France!

  2. January 19, 2011 at 10:24 AM #

    Sweet lord this is HORRIBLE! What a terrible way to arrive back in France! I can’t even imagine the frustration!
    I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the strikes here.

    • January 20, 2011 at 3:34 PM #

      Me neither. It’s like they don’t know how to organize a strike; I’m not sure what it is. I don’t think they care whether they have the public on their side. They just say “screw it” and do whatever and thumb their noses at John Q Public. Eh bien, that’s how it is.

  3. January 19, 2011 at 12:33 PM #

    Ohlala. Not a fun way to come back to France – I can’t even imagine! It’s already difficult enough!

    • January 20, 2011 at 3:35 PM #

      Going through customs was breezier than ever too. The customs girl didn’t even look at my passport. That was the highlight of the morning.

  4. Tuula
    January 20, 2011 at 8:34 AM #

    Ahhh, truly awful!! Sorry to hear about that (but you’re totally right when you say “anything” can happen in France, ugh!)…I know the only thing I want to do when I arrive from a long flight is go straight home. Must have been terrible to wait so long…all I can say is, Boo to the French strikers!!

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