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Our Place at Place de Grève

Yesterday’s Parler Paris Après Midi coffee meeting was missing a few of the regulars thanks to massive demonstrations all along boulevard Beaumarchais between Place de la République and Place de la Bastille. ‘Tis the season for strikes and demonstrations (although these are of such regular occurrence, we no longer think much of them!).

(Read all about yesterday’s meeting complete with photos by clicking on /parlerparis/apresmidi.html)

And tomorrow will be no different. You’re not going to get anywhere in Paris unless it’s on foot.

The trade unions CGT, FO, the Indépendants, and the UNSA Métro-RER are executing a full-out strike (“grève”) affecting almost all the Métro lines, one train out of three on RER A and B trains and on the buses and tramway, 80% of the traffic is assuredly running. Expect some interruptions in service from RER C, D and E, too.

Before you head out, consult the site at http://www.ratp.fr, 08.10.03.04.05, 08.05.70.08.05 or 08.92.68.77.14 (.034 Euros/minute). You can also listen to 107.1 FM for more information.

The word for strike in French, “grève, ” has an interesting beginning.

The Hôtel de Ville (city hall) was located on Place de Grève, which means “the strand.” At the end of the 11th-century, the Place de Grève was the site where the river traders unloaded their goods and the square became the chief mercantile center of Paris. The markets were later moved (Les Halles), but the square became the site of many historical events.

Since workmen about to go on strike always gathered there, the expression “se mettre en grève” came to mean “to go on strike.” The square also has a history of horrible executions and tortures from medieval Paris, so the name “Place de Grève” took on new connotations. One can only assume that this is a likely reason that in 1830 the name was changed to “Place de l’Hôtel de Ville.”

The Hôtel de Ville is an ornate building occupying an entire city block bordered by the square in front of it on the west, on the east by rue Lobau, on the north by rue de Rivoli and on the south by the Quai de l’H

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