The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Stepping off the train this morning for another hard day's contributing to France's GDP, we were a bit emotional on seeing the old cattle-wagon draw away. One gets fond of one's public transporter, like a partner who's familiar and dependable (and, as can be the way with partners, regularly ridden by half the town and beyond). For the next week or so, however, a ride's out of the question.

France's latest transport strike starts this evening. Unlike last month's few days of stoppage, no one's sure how long it will last and many fear a fortnight of trainlessness. The dispute over public pensions is still unresolved, and next Tuesday the train drivers' unions will be joined on the streets by the civil service and state agency unions. The transport workers have already been supported by the students' unions, who are protesting against planned university reforms. The students' preferred means of protest is to make for the nearest train station, occupy the train tracks and bring iron-horse traffic to a halt. Obviously, from today they'll need something more effective than sitting on idle rail lines.

We won't be too put out by the transport strike. Regular readers will know that your blogger is something of an athlete - and Château French Letter, overlooking the Seine, is only an hour's stroll from the day-job near Saint Lazare and the Opèra. More importantly, the weather forecast for the rest of the week says 'cold but dry'; nice one.

Spare a thought, however, for the live music community in Paris. To what lengths (literally) will punters go to see live shows during the coming strike-struck weeks? It just so happens that this week is a cracker for concerts. Even just counting the Irish visitors, this week there are Paris shows by Roisin Murphy, Sinead O'Connor, The High Llamas and Nina Hynes. Other attractive or high-profile shows include those by P.J. Harvey, Rachid Taha, The National, Josh Ritter, Souad Massi, Les Rita Mitsouko, Femi Kuti, Lucinda Williams and Vanessa Paradis.

However, big-name shows may not be so badly affected because ticket-holders won't want to see their money wasted (and in the case of P.J. Harvey, that's €74 or so). It'll be the smaller shows and venues that'll take the hit. During the strike, 'walk-up' punters (i.e. those who pay at the door) will be both literally walk-up and relatively few. Band nights will especially suffer, as they depend on walk-up punters and venue regulars.

Nina Hynes, for instance, is heading the Saturday night line-up at La Flèche d'Or, where entry is free. No ticket means no commitment to go, so even die-hard regulars may be tempted to give Saturday night a miss if it means having to walk for ages there and back. You see, the Flèche is a good distance from the city centre, too far even for your marathonian blogger to foot it. Other popular venues in the same 20th arrondissement district face the same problem. However, the area is home to a young demographic for whom, conversely, it'll be too far to go to the city centre, and so venue-owners are hoping that gig-goers will shop locally this Saturday - and subsequent Saturdays too.

With Paris hotels reporting cancellation rates of up to 25% this week, there's the silver lining for the dark cloud hanging over the leisure and entertainment industry in the French capital this week.

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Nuggets from our archive

2005Michael Jackson: demon or demonised? Or both?, written by Aidan Curran. Four years on this is still a great read, especially in the light of his recent death. Indeed the day after Michael Jackson died the CLUAS website saw an immediate surge of traffic as thousands visited to read this very article.