10 years ago, I was studying in France when a large-scale transportation strike fell over the country for several weeks. It appears that they’re at it again with another strike. In 1995, the métro, SCNF, and bus lines were all severely impacted, causing the entire city to take to cars, hitchhiking, and walking. Pollution levels increased during this time, the city cast in a haze of gray.

I lived in the chic 6e, so my morning commute was a walk of about 45 minutes. I travelled down rue Bonaparte, passing St. Germain des Près on my way to the pedestrian foot bridge, Pont des Arts. The charming bridge leads right into the Louvre museum, but I took a right to cross through several French quarters till I hit Avenue de la République. From there, it was a straight shot to the ESCP, where the Stanford Center was located.

Other friends in the program didn’t have it as easy as I did. Supriya and Tamar had to frequently hitchhike to get to the center and their classes. Others stayed home and chilled, at least until the Program Director, Mme H., came a calling!

From what I hear, the transportation strike got a lot of Parisians to begin to re-appreciate the beauty of the city. When I revisited Pont des Arts last year, I was surprised to see so many people picnicing on the wooden planks of the bridge. I don’t recall that from my time in 1995. Of course, the majority of people are still using public transportation, and everyone in the métro have the same “métro face.” Rae didn’t understand why I looked so pissed off in the subways until I told her about the face; she thought I was mad at her for some reason!

One thing that stayed with me from my French séjour was the following saying, “The French work to live. Americans live to work.” Isn’t that the truth!

Photos from our trip to France in August/September of 2004.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: