50 Years Later, France Remembers May ‘68

The 1960s were a riotous period of social and political change, but nowhere so much as in France.

The month of May, 1968, lives on in French culture as an almost mythology, an iconic time when the barricades went up, and workers and students fought the existing conservative zeitgeist of the time. It began, as it typically does in France, with student protests, as students fought the police, who occupied the Sorbonne, to take back their university. Student protests were followed by 11 million factory workers protesting, grinding France’s economy to a startling halt.

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Under the strict rulings of President Charles de Gaulle, police cracked down on protesters with unforeseen violence that further stirred anti-establishment sentiment. De Gaulle even fled France for a short time, afraid of a revolution the likes of which the country hadn’t seen for nearly two hundred years.

Today, May 1968 is remembered as one of the most important social revolutions ever to occur in France, and its impact will be honored for many Mays to come.