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French capital says 'non' to new McDonald’s

Photo: AFP

International fast food giant McDonald’s is struggling to expand in the French capital, with the city rejecting its latest request to open a new franchise in the picturesque Montorgueil neighbourhood.


The city of Paris on Monday blocked plans for a new McDonald’s restaurant near the historic Rue Montorgueil, following vocal opposition to the fast food giant by local residents and officials.

The pedestrian-only street, located in Paris’ second district, is known among tourists and locals alike for its diverse array of quaint shops, and lively cafés and restaurants. Queen Elizabeth II famously visited Montorgueil in 2004 as part of ceremonies marking 100 years of the "Entente cordiale" between Britain and France.

Hoping to cash in on the street's fame, McDonald’s had put in a request for a building permit on the corner of rue Réaumur and Rue des Petits-Carreaux, which extends into Rue Montorgueil.

“Many small businesses are already struggling to stay open,” Jacques Boutault, the local mayor who opposes the expansion of McDonald’s in his district, told FRANCE 24. “The arrival of more large franchises will result in a steep rise in rent and eventually the small shops will disappear.”

'Kills unique neighbourhoods'

“Little by little the streets of Paris will look like any other street in the world, the restaurants will serve the same food found everywhere. It kills the uniqueness of our neighbourhood,” he added.

Boutault, who is a member of the Green party, said the decision was made by Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, a Socialist, because of popular outcry over the move. But the Montorgueil neighbourhood is already home to other fast-food eateries, like Quick and Starbucks.

Asked about the existence of other international brands near Rue Montorgueil, Boutault said he and fellow Greens were simply trying to place limits. “Quick has been on the street for 30 years, and Starbucks for almost 10. We have no intention of kicking out restaurants that are already here,” he said.

Reacting to the decision, McDonald’s France said in a statement that it had filed a "sound" bid for the new location, meeting all the legal and technical requirements placed by the city, and that it had months of discussions with Boutault.

McDonald’s told FRANCE 24 it was too early to decide if it would appeal the decision by City Hall.

Local protests

A protest near the planned McDonald’s site brought residents and shop owners together on Saturday.

Organisers said around 200 people showed up at the rally, but the US-based company questioned the real support for the movement, arguing that there were only a few dozen protesters.

Critics of the proposed McDonald’s on Montorgueil have set up a Facebook page and launched an online petition that has collected around 450 signatures since July.

McDonald’s is the largest fast food restaurant chain in France, but expanding in the French capital has proved difficult. It has opened only four new franchises in the past 11 years.

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