AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) — More than a million people took to France’s streets Thursday to protest a bill pushed through by President Emmanuel Macron that raised the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a vote in parliament, according to the Associated Press.
Transportation, schools, restaurants, supermarkets, banks and trash collection are just some of the services being impacted by protests and strikes, the outlet reported.
“We were out having dinner one evening and saw caravans of police vans going around town. That was our first introduction to that there was something going on,” Austin-area woman Krista Wise said. She has been in Paris since last Thursday with friends and family for a holiday.
Wise said the sight seeing they’ve wanted to do hasn’t been impacted by protests so far, but Thursday, the largest demonstration seen in the capital marched right down the street of their short-term rental.
The Interior Ministry told AP the large march in Paris on Thursday drew 119,000 people, a record for the capital during the pension protests.
“Almost like a big parade,” Wise described. “Music and just people walking, they were wearing the colors of the unions that they were representing.”
“As it got a little bit darker there were more people, there were police, there were fire trucks. They’ve had the trash strikes here so there’s still some larger piles of trash and cans that are out by the street,” she said.
Wise noted one lit on fire but the fire department put it out very quickly.
The family did express some concern about travel out of the country — which has been impacted as protesters blockaded train stations, Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, refineries and ports — but said overall, they’ve felt very safe.
“It’s felt a little bit like a privilege to see the demonstrations even happen in a peaceful way and to be someone from outside of France but to feel safe.”
Some protests across the county have ended in arrests and property damage. Paris police said Tuesday that 234 people were arrested there mostly for setting fire to garbage in the streets.
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