Paris has seen two nights of unrest following the killing of a 17-year-old by police officers on 27 June.
The death of the teenager, known only as Nahel, was captured on video and shocked France, stirring long-simmering tensions between young people and the police in the neighborhood around the country.
But as the French capital is gearing up for its annual influx of summer holidaymakers, is it safe to travel to Paris?
Where are the clashes?
Clashes first erupted on Tuesday night in Nanterre, a town in the western suburbs of Paris, and nearby, and continued them overnight on Wednesday. A fire damaged the town hall of the Paris suburb of L’Ile-Saint-Denis, not far from France’s national stadium and the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Is it safe to visit Paris?
Around 17 million Brits visit France every year, and most of the visits are trouble free, but the ugly scenes over the past couple of days can understandably cause some concern.
Most of the city is unaffected by the unrest and the vast majority of it is confined to non-tourist areas; the Interior Ministry has announced that an extra 2,000 police officers would be brought into the worst affected parts of the city. If you find yourself close to any protests, the advice is to leave the impacted area. Transport and business could be disrupted as a result; before traveling, check if your plans will be affected.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has not issued a travel warning for France.
However, it has said: “Since June 27, protests have taken place in Paris and other locations across France. Some have turned violent. The protests may lead to disruptions to road travel or targeting of parked cars in areas where protests take place. You should monitor the media, avoid protests, check the latest advice with operators when traveling and follow the advice of the authorities.”
Am I covered by travel insurance?
The FCDO says “it is more important than ever to get travel insurance”. If you are caught in the unrest, or if you decide you don’t want to travel, it’s important to check the fine print: many travel insurances only offer limited cover for claims related to or caused by civil unrest.
During major industrial action in France earlier this year, Helen Phipps, director at comparethemarket.com, told ITV News that it was important for travelers to “check your policy wording or contact your insurance provider to confirm what you are covered for”.
She added: “Many people risk failing to take out insurance far enough in advance, leaving them unprotected if something goes wrong.”
Amber Moon, marketing manager at travel insurance provider Holidaysafe, told The Independents said: “Your travel insurance would still be valid in the normal way for medical expenses, for example, if for some reason you got caught up in any rioting by chance and were injured. This would also apply to personal possessions if they were lost and damaged as a result of a disturbance. But we would advise all travelers to take reasonable precautions to avoid areas where rioting is taking place.
She added: “As with all trips abroad we would advise travelers to let someone know where they are going and to keep their policy details with them at all times in case something does go wrong.”
What about other cities in France?
Fires and clashes have been reported in various French cities overnight, from Toulouse in the south to Lille in the north, but the main area affected is Nanterre. Again, be sure to check your travel insurance and plan ahead.