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Tourists face travel chaos as national strike begins across France

Travellers heading to and from France face five days of chaos due to a general strike across the country over pension reform.

Flights, trains and buses will all be hit by the biggest wave of industrial action the country has faced for decades – which begins on Thursday.

There are no tickets available on Eurostar trains until Tuesday, with the company saying it has cancelled almost 100 services between now and then.

France strikes
Image: Flights, trains and buses will all be hit by the national strike

Many airlines have cancelled flights to and from France
Image: Many airlines have cancelled flights to and from France

Airlines including Easyjet, British Airways and Ryanair have opted to cancel many of their flights to and from France, while Air France has said up to a third of its domestic flights would be cancelled.

The SNCF railway company expects nine out of 10 high-speed trains to be cancelled.

Passengers wait to hear if their flight has been cancelled
Image: Passengers wait to hear if their flight has been cancelled

Parts of the Paris Metro are also shut
Image: Parts of the Paris Metro are also shut

Most of the subway system in Paris is also affected.

An extra 6,000 police are being deployed across the French capital with the force warning of possible violence and damage.

More from France

Workers’ unions are planning a large-scale protest march on Thursday through the city against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to streamline the country’s 42 state pension systems.

Ghislain Coutard first encouraged protesters to wear yellow vests
‘Yellow vests’ founder speaks to Sky News

Those taking part fear they will have to work longer and earn less when they retire.

All businesses, cafes and restaurants along the route have been ordered to close for the day by police.

PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 08: Protesters chant slogans during the 'yellow vests' demonstration on the Champs-Elysées near the Arc de Triomphe on December 8, 2018 in Paris France. ''Yellow Vests' ('Gilet Jaunes' or 'Vestes Jaunes') is a protest movement without political affiliation which was inspired by opposition to a new fuel tax. After a month of protests, which have wrecked parts of Paris and other French cities, there are fears the movement has been infiltrated by 'ultra-violent' protesters. Today's protest has involved at least 5,000 demonstrators gathering in the Parisian city centre with police having made over 200 arrests so far.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Image: Authorities have banned protests from taking place on the Champs-Elysees and around Notre Dame Cathedral

A view of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral seen on June 15, 2019. - The Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris will host its first mass on June 15, 2019, exactly two months after the devastating blaze that shocked France and the world. For safety reasons, the mass led by Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit will be celebrated on a very small scale. Worshippers will be expected to don hard hats but priests will be wearing their ceremonial garb. (Photo by Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP) (Photo credit should read Z

Paris police chief Didier Lallement said the move comes amid fears that yellow vest protest groups – called “Gilets Jaunes” in French – and extremist troublemakers could join the demonstrations.

Authorities have banned protests from taking place on the Champs-Elysees, around the presidential palace, parliament and Notre Dame Cathedral.

Paris
Image: The Eiffel Tower and Lourvre Museum have warned tourists of delays

A child refreshes himself in the fountain of the Louvre Pyramid in Paris

The Eiffel Tower is warning tourists to delay a visit to the famous monument because the strike will disrupt access.

The Louvre Museum said its opening on Thursday may be delayed and some of its rooms may be closed.

A deserted Montparnasse railway station in Paris
Image: A deserted Montparnasse railway station in Paris

Hotels across Paris have reported receiving cancellations from tourists who have decided against travelling to France during the industrial action.

Train services across France have been disrupted
Image: Train services across France have been disrupted

Around 250 official demonstrations will be held across the country, with many more where the authorities have not been notified.

Ghislain Coutard, who started the yellow vest movement, told Sky News on Wednesday the protests could lead to a “new beginning” for his country.

“For me, it’s make or break. This is either a new beginning or it’s the end,” he said.

The national strike across France comes as thousands of rail passengers in southern England face misery as a 27-day walkout until New Year’s Day by South Western Railway staff enters its fourth day.

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