Tourists meander through mountains of rubbish in “romantic” Paris | outside

Tourists meander through mountains of rubbish in "romantic" Paris |  outside

with videoThose who want to spend a few days in the “City of Love” will have a less romantic experience than usual: there are 7,600 tons of rubbish rotting on the streets of Paris and more are being added every day. Garbage collectors have been on strike for a week and a half over plans to raise the retirement age, and that can be smelled in the French capital.

Marlisse Van Leeuwen

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Piles of garbage bags the size of a man, as well as pizza boxes, moldy banana peels, cans of drinks, food scraps and used menstrual kits lie on the sidewalks of Paris. The strike of the garbage collectors, who have been out of work since March 6 due to dissatisfaction with the raising of the retirement age from 57 to 59, is becoming increasingly noticeable in the French capital.

The end does not seem to be in sight: they plan to strike until at least March 20. Even the Interior Minister’s plan to force the garbage collectors back to work with the help of the Parisian police chief was rejected. The deputy mayor of Paris says such a demand is “an assault on the constitutional right to strike,” he wrote Le Parisien. The municipality is working on its own solution for urgent cases. And the news agency stated that, on Wednesday evening, the police will continue to force the waste collectors, without the cooperation of the municipality, to end their strike. France Press agency.


Vacationers, meanwhile, have to bend over backwards to capture Paris, with 34.5 million annual tourists, the world’s most visited city, in front of the camera without the dirt. They are everywhere: along the banks of the Seine, near Notre Dame and the famous Eiffel Tower. Says German Claudia Harmand France Press agency that “zig-zag between rubbish bins spoils the charm of the city.” A Mexican tourist said she feels “uneasy” because of the “unpleasant” fumes, and a Canadian woman expects tourists to ignore the City of Lights: “And they won’t come back.”

Residents are now concerned about public health. Shaking her head, Caroline Chesnay looks from her furniture store at the growing pile of rubbish outside the door. “It’s like the Leaning Tower of Pisa – by Saturday customers won’t be able to open the door,” she says. Watchman. “It’s a nightmare. I’m afraid the rats are coming soon. First we had covid, now the plague. I’m losing income. I just want this cleaned up right away. It’s a fire hazard. Soon it’ll be all over the street and blocking cars.”

There are also mountains of rubbish on the streets around the famous Eiffel Tower. © AFP

Younes, who works in a fish shop in southern Paris, does everything he can to minimize the smell. “We store the worst fish waste in our refrigerated storage right now, because this stuff would really stink if we left it outside. But soon we’ll run out of space. But I still support the strikers who are claiming their rights.” Outside La Gentilhommière restaurant, piles of trash bags line the edge of the dining area. “It’s disgusting,” said one employee, who declined to be named Watchman. “Customers no longer come.”

The narrow alleys are almost clogged with dirt. Passers-by have to fight their way through the chaos. In nurseries on the Left Bank, the pile of garbage bags in front of the door obscures the outside view. Father Paul, who has dropped off his two-year-old daughter, is expecting trouble. “I’ve seen a lot of rats. We already had a rat problem in the city — we had rats in our building six months ago and in a local yard you can see them roaming around in droves at night.”

Health risks

Garbage collection is still going on in some parts of the city: municipal teams are on strike, but some private garbage collection services are still operating. At the request of the city council, they must pick up trash in precarious places in the city to prevent disease outbreaks, such as hospitals and daycare centers. It doesn’t pass without a fight: Striking garbage collectors threaten to shut down private garbage collectors if they continue to operate, he writes France Press agency.

Not only is the strike in Paris, garbage bags are also piling up in Antibes, Le Havre and Rennes. President Macron’s proposals to raise the general retirement age from 62 to 64 and the number of years one must work to claim a full pension has sparked two months of protests and strikes. The government hopes parliament will be able to vote on the proposals on Thursday.

Human-sized piles of rubbish bags in the streets of Paris.
Human-sized piles of rubbish bags in the streets of Paris. © AFP

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