21 October 2010

Thursday in France — still limping

Friends reported yesterday that the filling station at Intermarché across the river in Noyers-sur-Cher, where we often go for diesel fuel, is completely closed down, with nothing to sell. Up at SuperU, the filling station is selling fuel only to emergency vehicles like ambulances. Even the little Renault garage in our friends' village, which charges an arm and a leg for a liter of fuel, they say, has run out.

Nick and Jean (A Very Grand Pressigny) report from their village an hour southwest of Saint-Aignan that all the filling stations down there are closed up and empty. Nick writes: "The word in the village is that its going to be next week before either the protest ends or the Army move in to restore supplies. Either way it looks like we're pretty much confined to quarters..."

Yesterday's sunset at La Renaudière,
outside Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher

Yesterday the French forces de l'ordre (police) moved on nearly all the fuel storage depots in northwest France yesterday to remove strikers and their barricades, with the exception, I saw on television, of the one in Saint-Pierre-des-Corps. That would probably explain the lack of fuel the the filling stations all around Saint-Aignan and Le Grand-Pressigny.

According to the government, about 3,200 filling stations in France, or about 25%of the total, have no fuel at all to sell at this point. The pumps have run dry. But that does mean that 75% of the filling stations around the country still have some fuel to sell. It still seems that diesel fuel is the hardest to find. There's still some unleaded gasoline.

Today, too, about 75% of regularly scheduled TGV trains will run, as will 60% of the regional TER trains and 50% of the regular Corail inter-city trains nationwide. The Paris public transit system seems to be running normally.

In Lyon yesterday there were pitched battles between police in riot gear throwing tear-gas canisters, on the one side, and masked young people, some just adolescents, throwing rocks and bottles, on the other. The mayor of Lyon is calling on parents to try to make sure their children are not out on the street without supervision.

Nationally, student leaders have called for another day of demonstrations today. Labor leaders are meeting today to vote on whether to hold another day of demonstrations next week. In Bordeaux and other places, strikers have tried to block access to warehouses that supply the big supermarket chains.

We made "wraps" — pronounced [VRAHP] in French — for lunch
yesterday, with N.C-style pulled pork, chipotle- spiced beans,
broccoli, melted Cantal cheese, and a salsa of garlic,
onions, peppers, olives, and tomates confites.

Access to the airport at Marseille is being blocked, or at least seriously impeded, because of demonstrations organized by oil refinery workers. The traffic backup this morning was « important », according to authorities.

Yesterday there was video on the news of passengers who were trying to get to Roissy/CDG and Orly airports, at Paris, having to get out of their taxis and walk the last few hundred yards to the terminal, with their baggage, because demonstrators wouldn't let the taxis through. They call such operations barrages filtrants — "filtering dams" — and they are designed to inconvenience everyone in an effort to make everybody aware of what's going on.

A close-up of yesterday's sunset,
which I took from an upstairs window

Walt and I are taking the car out this morning for the first time since Sunday morning. I want to get a haircut, and Walt wants to go across the river to Noyers to see if our chainsaw has been repaired — they've had it for nearly two weeks. We also need a few things from the supermarket, and some wine from a winery five miles up the road. We won't go far and we have ample fuel in the Peugeot's tank for our needs... and for the time being.

There are predictions that things won't really get a lot better, in even the best circumstances, for another week, or maybe two.


  1. One would wonder how the demonstrators get to the places to have their say, or shout. I can't imagine they all jump on their bicyclettes to save the little gasoline they have left in their cars.

    BTW, those wraps look divine, even for breakfast.

  2. I suspect that on Monday things will almost be back to normal - the strikers (and their children) will want to make the most of the school holidays which start on Saturday.

    Of course, once the holidays are over the strikers could decide to go back to strike again.

  3. All we really need is a day or so of cold rain. But the weather has been gorgeous! The rain would sort the really impassioned demonstrators from the kids and hooligans just in it for "fun". Vacation will help, too. Having lived here through lots of these national strikes and blockages, all I can say is that they do end. France always has a challenge to regain lost image, commerce, and so on.
    One common reflex here is hoarding. Buying more sugar or flour that you need; gas station owners keeping a reserve of gas for family, friends and such while closing the station to sales.
    Your freezer is full; so is ours.

  4. Thanks for keeping us updated. I walked into the room of my French colleague earlier this week, and saw that her presentations for the day included teaching the words, manifestations and grèves.

    Judy (yes, those vhraps look yummy:))

  5. May the strike end soon, or return to negotiations.

  6. We have just been down around Apt and noticed that there were more stations open for fuel than just two days ago. We were able to fill up without a problem. An anomaly or light at the end of the tunnel...

  7. It's weird to see photos of rioters in Lyon, a town I know so well, in the SF Chronicle.

  8. It is times like these when our U.S. national news has daily updates on the French "situation".
    AND, my french class has been talking about the strikes and learning the new vocabulary as well!
    Do you have bikes? Here in Eugene, that's the transporation most would use in a similar situation, I think. I live on top of a steep hill, so I have to put my folding bike in the car and then park it at the bottom before I go biking.


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