Have you ever felt that you’ve been wronged in a big way? I mean, not like you bought something for $50 and 32 days later it was on sale for 77% off the price you paid. More like something that goes against your entire value system — like someone decided that killing kittens was not just okay, but that an annual public culling of cute kittens was now a national event, complete with paid day off!
Okay, a little drastic with the culling of cute kittens. But stick with me. Everyone has values, and everyone votes for politicians based on said values. And sometimes, people don’t like the outcome of those votes. Ahh politics.
Just last weekend I was in Paris, France, and was right in the middle of the Yellow Vest Protests. As someone who searches out unique experiences, I have to say, this is one is top 5 for me, and I suppose the Yellow Vest Protests couldn’t have provided me with a more unique French experience in Paris!
Now, I don’t watch the news anymore, nor do even have cable or satellite. So, sometimes, I have no idea what’s going on in the world. Much like the news, that can be both good and bad. You see, I had no idea there were protests going on in Paris when I decided to take a road trip there from Geneva, Switzerland.
It all started out with work. I’m not flying overseas for work and NOT enjoying a few days for myself. So I drove almost nine hours from Geneva, Switzerland to the beaches of Normandy to pay my respects to those who fought in WWII. It was emotional, to say the least. And I don’t want to write about that because I’m not using war and dead soldiers to further my blog.
From Normandy, I drove back to Paris with plans to see the city on the hop-on-hop-off bus tour the next day with Big Bus Tours. I love those bus tours and promote them regularly as a way to see a major city.
So, there was a disclaimer from Big Bus advising that the Champs Elysees area would be avoided, as that’s where the protests were centred. Okay, fine by me. I knew I could probably somehow maybe likely possibly find a way to get over there…and I did. But I did have to go though a security pat-down.
Once on Champs Elysees I saw the damage from the week before, as well as the preparation for more damage to come. Many stores on this famous street were boarded up. And later in the evening, the streets were lit up by car fires — likely not the works of true yellow vest protesters.
As I talked to both protesters and police alike, I did get to understand that while this isn’t a daily, weekly, monthly or annual occurrence, it’s something the French do. When they don’t like something, they protest it. North Americans can learn a lot from this. We can stand up for our values and what we feel is right over what we feel is unjust. In the case with the yellow vest-ers, they were upset about diesel fuel tax hikes.
I do remember back in the 90’s, Canadian truck drivers didn’t like the tax increases on diesel fuel — it was cutting in to their bottom line. So those truck drivers drove seemingly 20 km/hr (in mph that’s…not very fast) all the way from Toronto to Ottawa — over 500 kilometres (in miles, that’s…half a days drive at normal highway speed). Anyway, traffic grind to either a halt or if you were lucky, a slow crawl. But the truckers got their way. It’s happened a few times with Canadian Truck drivers — maybe they all have a little French in them!
Paris was a great city to visit, with beautiful architecture, amazing food, and memorable photo ops. I feel I was lucky to see the French take to the streets in masses to stand up for their values. The Yellow Vest Protests will be a historical event in France’s long democratic history. I was also fortunate not to get caught too caught up in the middle of anything violent.
Oftentimes protests turn violent, but it’s not typically the protesters, it’s people that take advantage of the situation. Maybe it’s the opposition to the protesters being planted to make the protesters look bad, maybe it’s hooligans, maybe it’s just fake news…We’ll never know. All I know is, the Yellow Vest Protests provided a unique experience seeker with a truly unique French experience in Paris…oh, and Big Bus Tours graciously gave me 50% off my ticket because all their hop-on-hop-off stopped mid-afternoon due to the protests. That’s called taking the high-road, and that’s what you do when the Champs Elysees closes for Yellow Vest Protests!
Now go sell all your stuff and stumble upon something unique!