Tractors Take on Paris

Something you don't see everyday

Should I be worried that I hear several loud noises like gunshots and my first reaction is to keep walking straight in that direction? Did curiosity really kill the cat?

Well, I claim neither bravery nor stupidity (in this case), as I was pretty sure I knew the source of these strange sounds.

Yesterday thousands of tractors rolled down the streets of Paris. As someone who loves the meeting of incongruous elements, I got a kick out of seeing large farm machinery clogging traffic in the City of Light. John Deere isn’t a name I typically associate with Paris, but behold, a whole fleet took over the boulevards.

As much fun as it is whining about the perpetual state of strikes, spectacles, (or what the French like to term “social movements”) in France, sometimes there really is a reason. I’ll let the political bloggers give a full analysis (or see here for more background), but the farmers have a point. Their costs are rising, prices falling, and EU deregulation is no help at all.

You know how people love quaint French markets? We conjure a romantic picture of a family farm where such good food is grown? Well, that’s hardly the working reality anymore. Agriculture is in crisis and small-time farmers are fading fast.

Part of me wanted to hop up on one of the tractors and get a personal opinion on the matter; everyone has a story. But fear stopped me (have you seen the size of these things?)

Big wheels keep on turnin'

I did see a young woman do just that, though, and the older man driving the tractor seemed delighted to suddenly find himself in her company.

Most protests in Paris take place at Bastille or Place de la Republique. The tractors hit these two hots spots, but they also made their way to Nation, not too far from where I live.

So at least I had one take-away from the day: If you wait long enough, moving farm equipment will find its way to you.

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6 Responses to “Tractors Take on Paris”


  1. 1 Alison April 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Haha, This has happened a few times now in Brussels. Unfortunately I live just a block away from the EU headquarters and with hundreds of tractors honking their horns, it can get pretty noisy. Glad they are on someone else’s turf for a change :)

    • 2 parisimperfect April 28, 2010 at 4:27 pm

      Yep. I almost put a note that this post should be read with a soundtrack of honking horns playing :) Yikes! I don’t envy you. Must get old quick to have such shenanigans going on so close to you all the time! Let’s hope this doesn’t become a trend here.

  2. 3 PigletinFrance April 28, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Never seen the tractors on strike here in Lyon. It sounds as if it makes a nice change for once, instead of the SNCF being on strike!
    Why am I not surprised that you went to investigate Sion? I’m glad you did and that you shared this story with us, it must have been a funny sight indeed!

  3. 5 Kind Reader April 28, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    I completely adore this post. I grew up on a farm and actually know how to drive one of those things. And I love Paris. Never thought I would see a blend of the two. Living in a city now though wherever I have gone in the world I am always interested in the lives of ones running their farms…your perspective is so unique and refreshing. Thanks. Peace&love…Holly.

    • 6 parisimperfect April 29, 2010 at 12:40 am

      Thanks, Holly. Yep, definitely never expected to see tractors in Paris! I love hearing your perspective. And I want to know more about the farms in France now, too! Thanks for your comment.


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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