Photos and stories from French pension reform protests

 Follow the strikes and protests against pension reform in France live, thanks to our Observers on the ground across the country.


Follow the strikes and protests against pension reform in France live, thanks to our Observers on the ground across the country. Most are taking place in a peaceful, even fun atmosphere, but in some cities rioting youths have clashed with police and security forces.

If you are a trade unionist, student, retired person or activist, in favour of or against the strikes, and have photos, videos or eyewitness accounts, please contact us by e-mail at


All of FRANCE 24's coverage of the pension reform strikes in France.

SAINT-DENIS, 10 a.m.

These photos were posted by university professor Baptiste Coulmont on his blog. They were taken at Paris XVIII University in Saint Denis, a working-class suburb north of Paris, in the morning of October 19. Coulmont writes:

Paris XVIII is completely blocked this morning, it was impossible for anyone to get in. The main banner hung across the entrance [top photo] seems to be well-used: I think I recognise it from protests in 2009! There are new signs as well, like these."

Saint-Denis is part of the French administrative department Seine Saint-Denis, postal code 93, or 9-3 as is it familiarly known. Christophe Duman, a high school student in the suburb of Gonesses, in the neighbouring department, sent us the photo of a flyer being passed around his school on October 19:


The flyer reads:

"I’m calling all high school students in the 9-3 to blockade and protest! We will force the state to back down! [...] We’re tired of being taken for granted: they talk about Paris and Lyon on TV, but who cares about the 9-3? No-one! [...] This is our chance to show them that we’re not nobodies! [...] We’re the best! We challenge them! Youth against the state! The reform will not pass!"



Post written with FRANCE 24 journalists Paul Latourrotou and Lorena Galliot

LYON - 12 a.m.

Our Observer Joe Broadhurst, a website designer in Lyon,  sent us photos and videos he shot with his mobile phone while heading to work this morning. He gave us this account:

The lycéens [high school students] started marching at the Lyon Opera house at 10 a.m. this morning, then went south towards Bellecour square, torching at least two cars, flipping over a small flatbed truck and smashing windows at the bus stops. The police are in a stand-off with the kids at Lafayette and République streets.

The police are chasing kids out of Bellecour park, where they had been burning tyres and trash cans. Police are firing tear gas and charging. They seem to be trying to push the kids out of the park entirely. The kids at Bellecour are running away and dispersing, but a larger column of protesters is heading south, crossing a bridge across the Rhône.”

This video took place around noon at Antonin Poncet square. Teenagers began to surround the police and hit them with rock and bottles. Eventually, the police were chased through Bellecour park, and when the crowd finally reached them, they tear-gassed the north side of the park, clearing the west side of the park. The kids then retreated west into Old Lyon, and the police followed."

NANCY - Circa 11 a.m.

Our Observer Anne-Laure Blin took these photos from the window of flat in rue de Lorraine, Nancy, and posted them on Twitpic. Police clashed with student protesters there earlier. "My poor street, they really ravaged it ;-)", she tweeted, adding that "students pulled back after provoking the police".

NICE - 3:15 p.m.

Protesters in Nice dressed as medieval executioners holding a "coffin" carrying the pension reform they are going to "bury". On the side of the coffin is a photomontage of Labour Minister Eric Woerth caricatured as a lying Pinocchio. Photo posted on Twitpic by deadrising06.



A peaceful, multi-union march took off in central Draguignan early in the afternoon. Video posted on YouTube by cgtcad.



Protests against the reform have reached the Pacific Island of La Réunion, a French overseas department.  Video posted on YouTube by clicanooVideo.

LYON - 5 p.m.

Photos of smashed-in shop windows on rue Victor Hugo, in Lyon, sent by Joe Broadhurst. Rioters vandalised and looted the shops earlier in the afternoon.

LYON - 4 p.m.

Photos sent by our Observer Louis-Marie Charpentier, a student in Lyon, along with this comment:

Things got out of hand this morning in Lyon. The shopping street Victor Hugo was vandalised, shop windows were smashed in and several stores were looted, including a jewellery store and a shoe shop. Police and rioters have been facing off around Bellecour square for several hours. A surveillance helicopter is now flying over the city."


Students at Sciences-Po Lyon held a general assembly to determine whether or not to block their university building in coming days.