Funfair operators block Paris over Christmas market row

City, Fun Fair, Urban. Photo: pixabay

PARIS - Angry French funfair operators blocked major roads around Paris on Monday in protest at plans to axe the Christmas market on the prestigious Champs-Elysees because authorities deemed it tacky.

Protesters in dozens of trucks carried out a "go slow" operation during the morning, bringing traffic to a crawl on several motorways around the city.

The Christmas market was set up in 2008 by Marcel Campion, nicknamed the "funfair king" in the French press, who owns the capital's Big Wheel.

Organisers say the market has attracted 15 million visitors to "the most famous avenue in the world".

But the Paris city council voted unanimously in July to scrap it in its current form and replace it with a "popular, festive and high-quality" event.

Some local lawmakers had complained that the quality of the wares on sale was not in keeping with an avenue that hosts luxury labels such as Louis Vuitton as well as high street chains like H&M.

Alexandre Hameau, one of the funfair operators protesting, complained that Paris Mayor Anne Hildago "apparently finds that the market is not on trend -- that there is too much 'Made In China'".

"They want to take our livelihood away from us," said another fairground worker, Julien Maury.

Paris City Hall confirmed in a statement to AFP that the market would be blocked this year due to "the mediocre quality of the shows and products sold".

Campion has promised further action against the scrapping of the market in the coming days.

The 77-year-old has been embroiled in legal troubles in recent years, notably involving charges of shutting out the competition to operate the Big Wheel.


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