France travel advice: Is it safe to go and where are the riots happening?

3 July 2023, 15:39

An aeroplane above a french flag alongside the Arc De triumph at nightfall surrounded by police and riots
French riots have led the UK government to warn travellers over holidays and trips in the coming weeks. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Zoe Adams

Is it safe to travel to Paris and Nice? Where are the riots happening? Here's all the latest advice and guidelines if you're planning on travelling to France.

Riots and violent protests have erupted across many areas in France including Paris, Marseille and Lyons following the tragic death of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk.

A police officer shot the teenager dead after a routine traffic stop in Nanterre, Paris, after claiming their lives were at risk. Social media footage has since shown this to be untrue leading to the officer's arrest.

Following the event, riots have continued to take place across the country despite President Emmanuel Macron's urge for calm to come back to the streets.

So far, thousands of arrests have been made as rioters continue to destroy buildings, set cars alight and cause severe disruption. A young firefighter has also lost his life after tackling a blaze in an underground car park.

Read more: France deploys armoured vehicles to stop riots as bus and tram services scrapped after three nights of devastation

Read more: 'I hurt for my France': Kylian Mbappé and other French footballers slam Paris police for shooting teenager dead

And while the riots are showing signs of slowing down, with the school summer holidays approaching and with millions who have planned trips to France, including hotspots like Nice, the question is, is it safe to travel?

Here's the latest UK government advice on travelling to France and where the French riots are taking place.

Paris and Marseille are just some of the French cities experiencing high levels of rioting and protests
Paris and Marseille are just some of the French cities experiencing high levels of rioting and protests. Picture: Alamy

Is is safe to travel to France?

The UK government recently updated their travel advice for France and suggests anyone with plans to visit don't need to change their trip but are warned to be vigilant and remain up to date with latest updates.

They have, however, warned travellers to avoid visiting places where riots are happening, like Paris.

Their website reads: "Since 27 June, riots have taken place across France. Many have turned violent. Shops, public buildings and parked cars have been targeted. There may be disruptions to road travel and local transport provision may be reduced. Some local authorities may impose curfews. Locations and timing of riots are unpredictable.

"You should monitor the media, avoid areas where riots are taking place, check the latest advice with operators when travelling and follow the advice of the authorities."

They have also advised you check your travel insurance and make sure it provides adequate cover.

Around 17 million British nationals visit France each year, according to the Foreign Office.

Paris streets are filled with demonstrations during the day as they hold 'justice for Nahel' posters
Paris streets are filled with demonstrations during the day and riots at night. Picture: Alamy

Simon Calder warns tourists to France to 'monitor local media' following widespread rioting

Where are the French riots happening?

Paris is the most heavily affected part of France as it was closest to where Nahel was shot.

Nanterre and the surrounding suburbs of Paris are also particularly heavy. There are also riots in Lille, Toulouse, Marseille, Pau and Lyons.

Riots have swept cities for almost a week now but they are beginning to show signs of slowing down. Demonstrations are taking place during the day with riots taking over at night.

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