Since 2015, France has experienced a series of attacks by individuals and groups affiliated with or “inspired by” terrorist organisations.
Islamic State (IS), ISIS or Daesh have been behind the majority of these attacks, and despite reports that terrorist strongholds in Syria have been destroyed, some attacks have continued. This included a “lone wolf” attack on a French supermarket in March, and a suicide bombing in Kabul on 22 April, which killed 57 people during voter registration.
Mont Saint-Michel Evacuation
In light of previous incidents, it’s no surprise that police at Mont Saint-Michel took a reported threat of attack very seriously on Sunday 22 April and evacuated the island as a precaution.
Passengers and a guide on a shuttle to the popular island reported that a fellow passenger had said he intended to attack and kill police, and a café owner reported that the same man had caused a disturbance and made similar threats.
The abbey, village and hotels were all evacuated, and it sounds like this was done very calmly and professionally – well done to all involved! Remaining calm in this type of situation can have an enormous impact on overall safety.
More than a million visitors travel to Mont Saint-Michel each year, and it is France’s busiest attraction outside of Paris, says The Times.
The suspect was not found during the thorough house-to-house search, but authorities were confident that he had left the island, and it was re-opened to visitors by 2pm local time.
Strikes and Protests
We reported in 16 April’s Travel Alert that protestors were clashing with police at universities, and the weekend of 22-23 April saw further clashes, with protestors in various locations breaking shop windows The marches were called “to unite students and workers” against President Macron’s reforms, according to The Times.
France has been plagued by “travel chaos” recently, with air and rail strikes causing a number of delays and disruptions. While the air strikes are largely related to Air France’s internal disputes, the rail strikes are a response to government.
There is generally good warning of pending strike action, so it is possible to plan around this if you are travelling to France. Check local news consistently though, in case of any changes.
Reports indicate that two-thirds of trains within France have been cancelled in the latest strike action, as well as “three out of five TGV high-speed trains” and 70% of other long-distance services. Eurostar has cancelled 15 trains between London and Paris and nine between London and Brussels for 23-24 April, but reports that 80% of its services “should run normally.”
A state of emergency was put in place following the Paris 2016 attacks, and was lifted in late 2017. Authorities remain on alert, and there are reports that two terrorist plots have been foiled in France during 2018.
240 deaths over three years is certainly a statistic we need to be conscious of, but millions of British travellers visit France each year and don’t encounter any problems.
It’s more important than ever to keep a close watch on local news reports and travel alerts, and there are simple precautions we can all take – wherever we travel.
- Information is one of your best weapons – make sure you have all relevant details before you book, and before you travel.
- Report any suspicious activities or items immediately
- Make sure you and your friends and family are familiar with “Run, Hide, Tell” in case of an emergency.
- Protect yourself financially with the appropriate travel insurance – make sure you’re covered for things like terrorism, natural disasters, and strike action/cancellations – these can often be limited or excluded by many standard travel insurance policies.