Technically, it started on Wednesday night, with an endless ballet of tow trucks emptying the huge, strategically placed parking lot.

Technically, it hasn’t stopped since January.

French people are pissed off. It’s not just the pension reform bill and having to work until 64. It’s… well, it’s everything, from inflation to the housing crisis and other issues you’re probably familiar with wherever you live.

And it’s the fact that for the 11th time under Macron, yet another unpopular bill was pushed using article 49.3 of the constitution, the trump card to bypass the legislative power. Basically, the bill is pushed through without a vote which is a bit of a concern in a fucking democracy.

“Empty parking lots and boarded-up stores? This is yet another Carnival for you!” Feng joked on Wednesday night. “What time is the protest?”

“It starts at 10:30 a.m. I’m still French enough to be pissed off at the government and capitalism in general, so I’m in. My mum is coming too, as usual. This is the 12th protest against this bill, by the way.”

Transitioning from Brazil to France was easier than I thought. Sure, it’s colder, but in a way, both societies are a bit similar—walkable cities, people in the street, good food, and a sense of community. I find it harder when I come back to Ottawa, where streets are invariably empty and it takes a car or a very long walk to get around. North America is a different world.

“I can’t believe I was worried when you were travelling in Brazil at first!” my mum laughed, as we started running away from the first tear gas only an hour into the protest.

The marching part of it didn’t take that long. Around noon, everybody ended up in one of Nantes’ biggest parking lots.

Time for the urban guerilla part to start.

Since the garbage collectors are on strike, bottles quickly became projectiles and garbage cans were set on fire both to block streets and to warm up people (rainy day in Nantes).

We took side streets, running away from the riot police when needed, running away from some protesters as well—violence is the new standard, and it sucks.

I got tear-gassed three times.

I escaped from a rain of rubber bullets fired by the police.  

I took pictures along the way, not quite sure of the story I was trying to tell—maybe the fact that protesting peacefully is no longer an option in France, and I find that worrying.

Place du Commerce, Nantes
Place du Commerce, Nantes
Tribunal administratif (set on fire two weeks ago during a protest, now boarded up), Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Tribunal administratif (set on fire two weeks ago during a protest, now boarded up), Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Start of the protest, Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Start of the protest, Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
"Unemployed on strike", The initial gathering, Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
“Unemployed on strike”, The initial gathering, Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
First tear gas, an hour into the protest, Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
First tear gas, an hour into the protest, Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
First tear gas, an hour into the protest, Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
First tear gas, an hour into the protest, Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
To be set on fire two minutes later, Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Rubber bullets grenade, Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
When you get tear-gassed... Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
When you get tear-gassed… Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
“Police = Rapists”, Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023
Pension bill protest, Nantes, April 13, 2023

 

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8 Comments

  1. Martin Penwald April 15, 2023 at 10:27 am

    CRS=SS !
    Macron ! Démission !

    > maybe the fact that protesting peacefully is no longer an option in France,

    It has never been an option. The Capital’s milicias always escalate the situation to justify their own violence. What is alarming is that police forces have a high proportion of racist, fascist, reactionary members compared to the general population and that is not a cause of concern.

    Reply
    1. Zhu April 15, 2023 at 9:20 pm

      What scares me the most are the weapons now used for crowd control. Like, fucking rubber bullets being fired all the time. Tear gas are strong now as well (or am I weaker???). Many CRS look terrified. It’s a recipe for disaster…

      Reply
    2. Zhu April 15, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      Nobody says “CRS=SS” now. The new generation is going with “ACAB”, which is new in France (to me at least!) 😉

      Reply
      1. Martin Penwald April 16, 2023 at 6:50 pm

        I ’ve started to hear it in France a couple of years ago, but I’m a traditionalist.

        Reply
        1. Zhu April 17, 2023 at 7:28 pm

          Same here. Plus, “ACAB” with a French accent kills it for me.

          Reply
  2. Kiky April 20, 2023 at 4:57 am

    I dont read the news, why pension age is extended to 64? What age was it before? Is it because lack of human power like it is in Japan

    Reply
    1. Zhu April 20, 2023 at 8:57 pm

      Because of funding issues, apparently. It was 62 before.

      Reply
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