Though the floods in Paris have dominated headlines this week, France as a whole is having a tough time. The Seine may have burst its banks, but industrial action in recent weeks has led to petrol pumps running dry and the normal flow of train services being reduced to a mere trickle.
France has just had its wettest May since 1873 and June hasn’t got off to a great start, either. Yesterday, the Seine reached its highest level in 34 years, prompting the closure not only of a number of bridges, metro stations and parks, but also two of the city’s busiest museums: the Louvre and the Musée D’Orsay. Situated on opposite sides of the river, both made the decision to close in order to move artwork located on lower floors to safety.
It’s important to remember that France isn’t the only country to have been hit by the bad weather; as the BBC reports, floods have wreaked havoc and even taken people’s lives throughout Europe. What does set France apart, however, is that the flooding feels like the latest in a series of unfortunate (not to mention untimely) events.
Reforms to French employment laws have sparked a wave of industrial action that shows no sign of letting up any time soon. The end of last month saw widespread petrol and diesel shortages due to strikes at oil refineries. There are also strikes at the country’s main rail company, SNCF, which risk causing disruption during Euro 2016 over the coming weeks.
In short, French President François Hollande has got a lot on his plate at the moment. But if the polls are anything to go by, one thing he doesn’t have is the public’s sympathy. This week Le Monde reported that 53% of voters “aren’t at all satisfied” with the incumbent President who, as it stands, wouldn’t make it past the first round of next year’s presidential election.
From strikes to shortages, floods to protests, there’s a lot going on in France at the moment. But with a little luck (and the country is certainly due some of that) there will be some more positive news stories soon.