French students escalated ongoing protests in advance of the Easter holiday this week, occupying offices on two campuses and barricading a Paris street.

Early in the week student protesters held university administrators in Orleans, Rennes, and Strasbourg hostage for a brief time. In Rennes, the president was forced to flee his office and call for help from a stairway, and in Strasbourg more than a hundred students forced their way into a room where thirty administrators were meeting, blocking their way out for a time.

On Wednesday protesters in Paris turned the Boulevard Saint-Michel into an impromptu beach, dumping sand into the road and blocking traffic. The beach was a nod to a slogan from the May 1968 protests that shook French society: “sous les pavés, la plage” — under the cobblestones, the beach. (For a discussion of the various shades of meaning behind this slogan, click here.)

Protests against changes to French higher education policy have been going on for two months, and administrators now say that if the disruption does not end after Easter, the spring semester may be lost entirely. Click here for a Reuters article from the newspaper Le Monde on the recent demonstrations, or here for Google’s English translation.

This post was updated on April 10 with new details on the Rennes and Strasbourg protests.