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Europe

Paris court upholds ban on Champs-Élysées Christmas market

© AFP file photo | Paris officials claim the Christmas market on the famed Champs-Elysées damages the city's image.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-11-16

A Paris court on Thursday rejected a bid to return Christmas market stalls to the famed avenue for a 10th year running, upholding a decision from the Paris mayor’s office to discontinue the market on the grounds that it is tacky and overpriced.

Influential funfair tycoon Marcel Campion’s fight to continue the Christmas market tradition went down to the wire after he filed an administrative tribunal appeal against the city's decision to cancel it.

Campion, known in France as the “funfair king”, claims the 240-stall operation draws 15 million visitors every year and employs some 2,000 people. But Paris officials say it is too downmarket for what they regularly tout as “the most beautiful avenue in the world”.

Angered by this affront, Campion has used lorries to disrupt traffic in go-slow operations around Paris and has even described Mayor Anne Hidalgo as “mentally deranged” on French television.

>> Read more: Marcel Campion, Paris funfair iconoclast, fights City Hall again and again

After the latest court decision on Thursday, Campion promised further legal action to combat what he described as Hidalgo’s “war on funfairs”.

The flamboyant 77-year-old  who also runs the Paris Wheel, a 200-ft Ferris wheel on Place de la Concorde  is known for his frequent tussles with Paris City Hall.

In 1983, Campion and his cohorts occupied the Champs de Mars, the garden in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, to save the Fête à Neu-Neu funfair. He would win that battle, too, obtaining negotiations with Paris mayor and future French president Jacques Chirac.

In 1985 he famously established a funfair in the Tuileries Gardens on the strength of a forged letter of authorisation bearing the signature of the then culture minister, Jack Lang. In a testament to the provocateur’s talent for winning his battles by wit or influence, the same Lang would later pen an authentic preface to Campion’s 2009 autobiography.

For a list of the Christmas markets that will go ahead in Paris this year, including ones at Notre Dame and Montparnasse, click here (link in French).

Date created : 2017-11-16

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