I am fighting plans for the 71st McDo in Paris

Burger giant McDonald’s is being challenged by the Green mayor of the Paris second arrondissement over plans for a diner near a school. Jacques Boutault says it will spoil the fashionable Marché Mont­orgueil and attract children from the school which makes a point of healthy meals.Since ‘McDo’ arrived in France in 1979 it has grown to now have 1,400 diners, employing 74,000. Its turnover last year was €4.7billion. However, several mayors have, like Mr Boutault, opposed plans for new sites.In Paris, work has started on the diner, at Rue des Petits Carreaux and Rue Réamur and Mr Boutault has asked Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to intervene. He told Connexion why.

25 October 2017
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I opposed the planning application several times and the city of Paris council finally followed my view, however McDonald’s went to court and the judge said the refusal was not substantiated.

Our battle has lasted five years – a first application failed because a majority of other occupiers in the building opposed it, then the firm chose another nearby site where that is not the case.

I want the mayor of Paris to devote the same mobilisation and energy that she put into getting the Olympics, to the daily life of people here and to do everything she can. She could call the leaders of McDonald’s France to say it is not reasonable or she could negotiate with them to open elsewhere.

They managed to find €94million to mount the bid to stage the Olympics so I think there must be a few hundred thousand for this. There could be something in the coffers to pre-empt the sale and use the building as a council facility instead.

I oppose it because McDonald’s already has 70 restaurants in Paris and today all the prestigious street corners in Paris are sold to McDonald’s.

That is enough. I am sick of it.

We, the residents and councillors of the second arrondissement, have had it up to here with the way McDonald’s does not respect us and forces its unhealthy food on us with its dollars and euros.

But the real reason is the second arrondissement has been working very hard on food quality for over 15 years. We have organic canteens in our schools – one is 15m away – and parents know their children will be tempted. Studies have shown there is more obesity in areas where there is a McDonald’s near the schools.

What is more, Rue Montorgueil is well-known for the quality of its artisanal restaurants and grocers – people come from all over the world for it.

And, like a cuckoo that comes and makes its nest in a tree already occupied by other birds, McDonald’s sets up without shame. It is unacceptable.

Yes, it is probably true the levels of fat, sugar and salt etc in their food are not uniquely bad. However, apart from the nutritional quality, McDonald’s is a symbol of a kind of globalised commerce that we find everywhere, which risks spoiling the distinctiveness of our streets and making them banal.

I would add that they offer poor working conditions, with bitty hours and no rights to join a union apart from their in-house one.

Plus they act in poor faith by using ‘fiscal optimisation’ methods to pay most of their tax in Ireland, where tax is lower, and not in France.

So I find it inappropriate for them to call on French justice when they are the first to cheat French law.

I do not see why McDonald’s wants to open in an atmosphere of hostility, where the councillors, residents and shopkeepers do not want them – hundreds of locals signed a petition opposing the opening.

Multinationals should not force their way in; it should not just be the richest who wins.

It is not about the fact it is an American firm – I like burgers myself, and a bit further up the street there is an organic burger restaurant where I often go; well my kids make me often go! It could be Russian or Chinese – or French – it is the fact it represents all that we don’t want.

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