I arrived in Paris last night by Eurostar. As I walked through the Gare du Nord on the way to my hotel I noticed a group of policemen. Then I noticed whom they were talking with - four soldiers carrying guns. Interesting.
After checking in to my hotel I make my way to la Place de la République, to join the Paris Perl Mongueurs for pizza. I emerge into a square empty of traffic, apart from a few dodgy looking vans pumping out dance music, and a few remaining demonstrators. Interesting. But they don't seem to be looking for trouble (or at least, they aren't paying any attention to me) so I saunter across the road and head off in the direction of food. As I leave the square on the pavement I look left and spot a row of policemen standing across the road. Then I do a double take. The policemen are all carrying batons, wearing riot helmets, and carrying gas masks. As I walk down the road there is minibus after minibus of CRS, sitting, waiting, some smoking, some chatting. And backing them up? A small army of Parisian street cleaners, busy tidying away the leaflets and other mess left by the demonstrators.
When we walked back after the pizza, the demonstrators the mess, and the street cleaners had gone, and the traffic was back. But the CRS remained, sitting in their minibuses, still looking relaxed, as if nothing had happend. Maybe nothing did. But if "interesting times" are going to happen, I resolve to be in a restaurant somewhere else for the duration.