Tomorrow, the Eiffel Tower and several museums, restaurants, and shops around Paris will be closed. Throughout France since November 17th, increasingly violent demonstrations have occurred every weekend by the group known as the Gilet Jaunes | Yellow Vests. The situation is deeply troubling and I pray that it will soon be peacefully resolved. I do understand the Gilets Jaunes’ motivation to protest planned tax increases on France's already exorbitant fuel prices; yet, I certainly do not agree with their methods which have escalated to violence, injuries, and damage to both private property and historical treasures. Last weekend, a riot at the Arc de Triomphe resulted in the destruction of Le départ des volontaires de 1792, aka La Marseillaise -- depicting Marianne, the embodiment of the French Republic.
Am I concerned about traveling to Paris in February? Yes and no. Yes, I am cautious about safety issues, but then I always am when I travel. Despite what we see on the news, not all of Paris is in crisis, not all Parisiens are protesting. Tourists are not the target of these protests, but they aren't inherently protected from them either. I want my fellow travelers to fall in love with Paris like I did the first time I visited (and indeed every time I return). Ultimately, I do believe that bad things can and do happen everywhere, and that we can't be ruled by fear or what-ifs. Nonetheless, I will be extra diligent as I plan our trip.