France woke up to a day of paralysis Tuesday with transport blockages, mass strikes and demonstrations hitting the country for the second time in a month to protest a planned reform to raise the retirement age.
Around a million people were expected to take to the streets nationwide, a police source told AFP, rallying against plans to boost the age of retirement from 62 to 64.
Some 11,000 police were mobilised across the country, with 4,000 deployed in Paris where several hundred ex-tremist troublemakers were expected, according to the interior ministry.
On January 19, some 1.1 million took to the streets in rallies against the proposed shake-up — the largest protests since the last major round of pension reform in 2010.
Millions had to find alternative means of transport Tuesday, work from home or take time off to look after their school-age children, with workers in transport and education sectors among those staging walkouts.
“This is about more than pensions, it is about what kind of society we want,” 59-year-old university professor Mar-tine Beugnet told AFP, saying she would take part in Tuesday’s protest.
Most Paris metro and suburban rail services were severely restricted, the capital’s transport operator RATP said.
Intercity travel was also disrupted, with just one in three high-speed trains likely to run, railway company SNCF predicted.
In the southwestern city of Bordeaux, Cheikh Sadibou Tamamate, 36, arrived at the train station in the small hours of Tuesday, hoping to catch a morning train to Paris after the one he was booked on around 5:00 am (0400 GMT) never left.
“Unfortunately it was cancelled,” he said.
Sitting on a bench with an open laptop Guillaume Chaux, 32, said he discovered his train had been cancelled as he arrived at the station, but he still hoped to make it to London Tuesday.
“I’m looking at travel apps to see if I can get another train. Nobody has told me anything,” he said.
Air travel is to be less badly affected, with national carrier Air France saying it would cancel one in 10 short and medium-haul services, but long-distance flights would be unaffected.—AFP