Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

Marseille, Old harbour

My journey back to London was more eventful than initially thought. I had to catch a plane from Marseille airport, which is quite far from my small village on the Mediterranean. The traffic was of course terrible, but, me being me, I was more than two hours in advance anyway.
Once arrived at the airport, we sat down to grab a bite and started eating. I remember thinking that the airport looked empty compared to Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted.
Then, suddenly, when we were almost finished, we were given a paper saying that the staff at the restaurant was not happy with their salaries. My daughter asked me what the paper was about, and I tried to explain it to her.
A few minutes later, we head loud whistles and people tooting. A group has entered the airport: it was the staff of the restaurant, and they were starting a strike. There and then, before our very eyes.

The paper That Started It All

My daughter was bewildered. I explained to her that striking was a national sport in France, and that on top of this Marseille was probably the unofficial capital of strikes. After all, Marseille had experienced spectacular bin men strikes. The city was stinking for weeks on end, and huge rats were crossing the streets as a result. The situation was so unbearable that local residents started burning the rubbish on the streets. I am not sure that my little one felt reassured by my explanations. I was just trying to illustrate my point.
Shortly afterwards, the security teams started to follow the protesters. The police joined them eventually, and a chase ensued all over the arrival hall. I felt like I was in the middle of the action. It was hilarious. The group of strikers kept going outside and coming back, and every time they ended up running one after another and running around.

Things calmed down eventually. We went upstairs to board our plane. In London, everything was quiet and uneventful, which was nice. You have to give it us: nobody strikes like the French. Nobody.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • Damned straight! One of the reasons I stopped using Paris as a connecting point was the routine work stoppages that ruined my travel!

    • Just like you, I tend to avoid connections in Paris. It is about being practical, right?

  • Am I surprised? Of course not! Striking really is the national sport… At least you managed to finish your meal and get a free show 🙂

    • I quite enjoyed the show, as you say. My daughter was a bit scared…She will get over it. She has to keep in touch with her French roots, right?

  • Shame someone was there to take your money, really.

    More strikes on the trains in Paris today.

  • Hey, you got something to eat AND free entertainment. Sounds a bit like Benny Hill à la française with them all running around 😀 The French have always been rebellious and I’ve come to view the strike as their way of showing they are still revolutionaries, deep down. Thank your lucky stars nobody started throwing paving stones like in ’68.. and recently in Toulouse.

    • I had forgotten it was like this. No, honestly, I really had forgotten how it was.

  • Lou

    The Italians are also excellent at it. I remember the toll takers on the autostrada taking the money veeery slooowly in what they call a ‘slowdown”, a threat to strike.
    My favorite was my mom filling up all the bathtubs when the water strike was threatened; it seemed that the threat was all part of the drama.
    The Italians love a show too!

    • We do love a bit of drama, right? Some things never change…

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  • Sadly here we just suck it up!!!