'Black Thursday' strikes in France: How bad is the disruption?

Eight Eurostar trains have been cancelled, disruption is expected to flights at several airports and limits on petrol are being imposed in Southern France

Disruption is expected to be worst on Thursday (March 23)
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Strikes and protest action are continuing across France against the government’s controversial pension reforms, which include raising the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64.

It is expected to worsen on Thursday (March 23), the latest national mobilisation against the reforms.

This comes as France's president Emmanuel Macron yesterday (March 22) gave his first interview since controversial pension reforms.

Here is our updated look at what disruption you can expect, with this page being updated regularly as new information is released.

Read also: French PM survives two no-confidence votes over pension reforms


  • France rail operator SNCF says one-in-three regional TER trains are running on Thursday.
  • One-in-two TGV or Ouigo services are in operation, it added.
  • Eurostar has cancelled eight trains on Thursday, including six between London and Paris. Click here for details.
  • Only two metro lines in Paris are running a normal service on Thursday.
  • It comes after RATP unions had promised Paris commuters a “black” Thursday.

Read also: Train ticket prices in France could go up for a second time this year


  • France's Directorate General of Civil Aviation has warned there will be disruption until Friday (March 24) morning.
  • It says to expect cancellations and delays to flights at Paris-Orly, Marseille-Provence, Lyon and Toulouse.
  • It advises passengers to contact their airline for more information. It also asked passengers to delay their flights, if possible.

Read more: Let other air traffic staff replace French during strikes, says Ryanair

Roads and refineries

  • Several departments in the south of France have introduced limits on how much petrol can be bought, amid fears of shortages.
  • Prefects in Gard, Vaucluse, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Var and Bouches-du-Rhône have introduced restrictions.
  • The restrictions will apply until at least Friday (March 24).
  • Strike action at several of France’s refineries is putting pressure on supplies.
  • Tuesday saw the first requisitioning of refinery workers at the Fos-sur-Mer plant near Marseille, allowing some activity to resume.
  • While fewer than 10% of petrol stations in France have reported shortages, the situation is worse in the south.

Read more: Refinery blockades: Tips on how to find petrol and diesel in France

Read more: Petrol workers requisitioned in France as shortages begin to bite


  • P&O Ferries said services were delayed departing Dover and Calais on Thursday due to "industrial action in France". Follow live updates here.


  • Between 40 and 50% of primary school teachers will be on strike Thursday (March 23), according to the teaching union Snuipp-FSU.
  • The union expects strong walkouts in Paris and departments such as Bouches-du-Rhône, Pyrénées-Orientales and Haute-Vienne.
  • Meanwhile, exam invigilators went on strike on Wednesday, severely disrupting exams for the baccalauréat.
  • More than 500,000 students have been affected by the strikes, with the exams accounting for around one-third of the bac qualification.

Refuse workers

  • Refuse workers in Paris are continuing their strike until at least Monday (March 27).
  • As ‘requisitioned’ striking workers began to return to work, rubbish in the affected Paris arrondissements is slowly being removed from the streets.
  • “It will take one or two weeks to clear everything,” said Delphine Bürkli, mayor of the affected 9th arrondissement, as over 10,000 tons of rubbish remains on Paris’ streets.
  • Refuse workers are also striking in a number of larger French cities such as Marseille, Nantes, and Angers.

Read more: Paris mayor kicks up a stink over bid to end bin collectors’ strike


  • France Bleu, a network of regional and local radio, announced on Wednesday morning that it would be unable to broadcast all its planned programmes due to an ongoing strike.

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