EDIT: The protest was on the France 2 news channel when we got back to our hotel after dinner tonight. You can check out the footage at: jt en video (make sure you choose the 20h edition of samedi, 26 aug.
Update: Day 2 of the quest for an apartment in Paris.
Today we were actually able to set up an appointement to see a 2p/2ch (3 pièce/2 chambres, meaning 3 rooms, 2 bedrooms plus a kitchen and bathroom) near the gare du nord. Our appointment is for Monday, so we trekked up to the 10e arondissement to scope out the area first – and were a little bit disappointed. The several blocks surrounding the train station are nothing but hotels and “sexy shops,” and as you move away from the station, the only businesses for blocks around are Indian restaurants. We’d probably be close to some delicious curry living there, but the area felt really touristy and not that safe, and the building itself didn’t look that nice.
Here’s a picture of a block from our potential apartment – we were literally on the other side of the tracks.
After deciding that we are definitely not interested in paying $1300 euro/ month for this apartment, we decided to head down toward la republique by way of the Boulevard de magenta. About a block in, we found ourselves in the middle of a huge immigration protest. A thick line of marchers wound all the way down the boulevard, drumming chanting and waving signs. One young guy darted in and out of traffic handing out fliers that read “Déclaration sur la conjoncture aprés la sinistre opération policiére contre les .” Rachael and I braved the cars and the mob to grab one of the fliers, and sat in a bus stop to read it out of the rain. Les cachans are people who live in the Cachan area of the banlieue, SouthWest of Paris.
This protest was just one part of a country-wide response to Sarkozy’s attempts to reform immigration law in France. Basically, France will no longer recognize the rights of immigrants “san papiers” in school, etc as a response to the violence of last October. “Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the conservative presidential frontrunner, responded to that violence with a crackdown on illegal immigration and a controversial new law to enable France to select the foreigners it wanted to welcome.”
Here are some more pictures of the protest. It was hard to get really close because of traffic, police, and crazy people on the sidewalks. We actually heard a rather dirty, grizzled-looking man yell “Faites revenir en algerie!” Or, “Go back to Algeria!” Yuck.
After passing the protest, we stopped in at an Ancéa Immobilier agency to get some help with our apartment search. We had to pay a fee, but we are crossing our fingers that it will be fruitful.