20 October 2010

Burning tires

They are still at it and neither side is going to compromise. Yesterday I saw some burning tires in front of the tram and bus depot in Marseille, spewing out big black clouds. This morning there were overturned garbage containers and burning barricades (small ones) at the main gate. Handmade signs said "contre les réformes", misspelled, referring to the increase of the retirement age from 60 to 62.

Traffic in Marseille was terrible this morning, even my little rue Saint-Pierre that I use to leave downtown was blocked, and it's too narrow to pass cars even with a bicycle. Drivers moved aside with their usual superhuman French courtesy to let me pass, but there is now so much garbage everywhere (the garbage men are still on strike) that it's overflowing onto the street, leaving even less room than usual. The city is starting to look positively filthy because strong winds are scattering the garbage.

I pass through the city of Aubagne on my way to work, and traffic was unusually quiet there - maybe because all gas stations in Aubagne and the surrounding villages are now closed because of the fuel shortage. One third of all gas stations in the country are closed. Riot police have reopened some storage facilities but the situation is very unstable.

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