The headlines and video footage spoke of massive labor unrest, strikes, refinery shutdowns and demonstrations ("manifestations") throughout France during much of October, but life in central Paris was utterly normal. Public transportation in the city was unaffected (I even managed to fly to Nice and back one day without any trouble), and I only encountered one manic (left) in the ten days I was there. Most of the activity seemed to be taking place elsewhere in France. The ostensible issue was the planned increase in the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62, but according to locals I spoke with most people recognized the need for some change and the public protests were really more an expression of an intense dislike of President Sarkozy. At any rate, Parisians in particular seem to have a way of taking these things in stride. If you hadn't been reading the papers or watching TV, you might never have known anything was going on.