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Paris rejects bid for new McDonald’s on historic street, again

Kenzo Tribouillard, AFP

In what is now a two-year-old dispute, Paris lawmakers this week opposed the opening of a new McDonald’s franchise in one of the French capital’s oldest and most picturesque roads.

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The plan to inaugurate a two-story McDonald’s restaurant on the corner of Rue Réaumur and Rue des Petits-Carreaux – in the heart of the historic Montorgueil area – has come up against stiff resistance from residents and local leaders.

The pedestrian-only Rue de Montorgueil, which extends into the Rue des Petits-Carreaux, is renowned for its quaint shops, old cafés and fashionable restaurants. Queen Elizabeth II famously strolled down the street in 2004 as part of ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the "Entente cordiale" between Britain and France.

District mayor Jacques Boutault, a member of France’s green EELV party, has taken up the fight against McDonald’s, petitioning City Hall to block the hamburger giant from expanding on his turf.

Boutault said he wants to keep McDonald’s out in order to protect Montorgueil’s traditional shopkeepers from cutthroat competition and its children from unhealthy eating habits.

Residents and business owners have also expressed fear that the arrival of a multinational like McDonald’s will destroy the street’s identity, as well as raise rents and price them out of the historic area.

On Wednesday, Paris city councillors backed Boutault’s position, adopting a text to “do everything that is legally possible in order to stop the installation of a large fast-food restaurant” in Montorgueil.

Paris City Hall took a similar stance on the issue back in 2013, when then-Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë refused to deliver a construction permit needed by McDonald’s to refurbish and outfit the building that would house the restaurant.

However, McDonald’s contested Delanoë’s decision and appealed to France’s administrative courts. In April of this year a Paris judge ordered the city to re-examine the company’s request.

McDonald’s has denied that its arrival will rob the neighbourhood of its historic charm, and points to the fact that another burger chain, Quick, and coffee giant Starbucks already do business on the street.

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