So there are Mr & Mrs Drew going about their lawful holiday in Paris, returning by train from a pleasant day in St-Germain-en-Laye. Bimbling through the labyrinth that is the Nation RER/Metro station (think Oxford Circus or Bank multiplied by five) we noticed a few folks with scarfs over their faces ... well, it was quite chilly, and anyhow the denizens of the RER include some dubious types from the banlieu as anyone will tell you ... we mounted an escalator to propel us into the daylight at our chosen exit.
Bam - straight into a cloud of CS with its characteristic smell, and effect on the eyes and throat. I haven't had the pleasure for a couple of decades at least, when I last had my annual NBC test as a soldier. (As I said, it was a cold day so at least the CS wasn't going to make its way to, ahem, sweaty parts, where it also has an effect ...). Plus the usual helicopter, and the popping of some kind of percussion device being used by one side or another.
Yes, friends, this is one of a series of riots against M.Hollande's plans for a bit of labour law reform. In the red corner, a mob known as Nuit Debout, who on this occasion were 'standing up' during the daytime. Nuit Debout are probably what Momentum would like to be when they grow a pair - so we may see some copycat action in due course. I wouldn't ordinarily cite Russia Today as any kind of reliable authority on anything, but here's their account.
Anyhow, call me a coward I really don't care, but my instincts are with the uniforms in cases like this, so we turned in this direction.
Yes, in the blue corner were the CRS. Best not tangled with, as the good Anna Raccoon recently observed. They took pity on the middle-aged couple stumbling and spluttering off the top of the escalator (why no announcement down the Metro?? - I really don't think this would happen in London, they'd close the station) - and let us through. They'd come for a bit of skull-cracking and it was the youthful lefties they were after - them and their last-ditch defence of the 35-hour week.
So for us it was back to the hotel and plenty of talcum powder. I know the drill. We took a circuitous route out to our evening engagement ... I wonder whether Hollande will get his labour reforms?