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French say ‘Non, merci’ to Starbucks in famed Paris neighborhood

A group of Paris residents is trying to stop Starbucks from opening a new store in the famed neighborhood that's been home to the likes of Monet, van Goh, Picasso and Hemingway over the years. (Paris Fierte image)

Would Monet have ordered a Mocha? Some Parisians are up in arms over the idea Starbucks plans to open an outlet in the famed Place du Tertre in the art haven of Montmartre, where the likes of Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and many others gathered over the years.

Starbucks already has over 50 stores around the City of Light. But this one is striking a chord because of the history of the neighborhood, considered one of the top tourist spots in the French capital.

A group called Paris Fierté – translated to “Paris Pride” – is leading the opposition. Its members have launched an online petition, staged protest rallies and distributed leaflets in an effort to stop the store from opening.

On its website, Pride blasted the Seattle-based company:

“If tourists from around the world come to Paris to discover the Montmartre district, it is for its unique atmosphere. [If we] accept the introduction of Starbucks in our neighborhood, it would give victory to the globalists who are destroying cultural identities. Resist with us! You want to preserve the spirit of Montmartre? You want a world [of individualism] and not of uniformity? There is still time to derail the [entry] of Starbucks! Merchants, residents, Paris-lovers around the world, all set against the introduction of Starbucks!”

NBC News reports the company wasn’t aware of the protest, but spokesperson Jaime Riley said Starbucks “is committed to designing locally relevant stores,” and will “pay tribute to the beauty of the district’s architecture.”

It’s little comfort to many. American ex-pat and blogger Mary Kay went to the neighborhood recently to take the pulse of the people. She says not only are the locals unhappy, but many tourists want no part of the mermaid in Paris, either.

“Shaking their heads in dismay, they said that a Starbucks will completely ruin the essence of Place du Tertre,” she wrote about a group of Americans told about the new Starbucks.

For Kay and many others, though, it’s simply a sign of the times. She says the small business that was in the historic building that will soon become home to the new Starbucks could no longer afford the rent.

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