French island loses high ‘steaks’ fight to keep McDonald’s off its shores
An island off western France has lost an Asterix-style battle against McDonald’s after a court ruled the fast-food giant should be granted a building permit.
An appeal court in Bordeaux has ordered the town of Dolus-d’Oléron, on the Atlantic island of Oléron, a popular tourist destination, to let McDonald’s start building a restaurant on its shores.
Grégory Gendre, the mayor, had been fighting a war of attrition to keep his island free of what he called “malbouffe” (crap food), arguing the chain was out of step with its small-scale, eco-friendly way of life.
He had even created a sustainable food area on the site where McDonald’s wished to build a restaurant as an alternative. He dubbed the food zone “McDolus”, a play on the name of the fast-food giant and the town. On offer was a version of a ‘big mac meal’ that included organic oysters, eel with parsley, and local wines.
But the town paid a high price for the mayor’s war.
A lower court in Poitiers last year ordered it to grant the building permit and if it failed to do so to pay €300 (£263) for every day that it was withheld.
The Bordeaux court this week upheld that judgement, meaning Dolus-d’Oléron must now pay €105,000 in fines and a further €300 for every day until it issues the permit.
The battle had split the town, with around 150 people demonstrating in January for the right to eat fast food. The protest showed the extent of change in France since 1999 when peasant farmers staged violent protests against plans for a McDonald’s in a provincial town.
“Le burger” was recently proclaimed France’s favourite snack, appearing on 85 per cent of menus, and France is McDonald’s biggest market in the world outside of the US.
The company’s turnover in France in 2017 was a whopping €4.85 billion, up 4.1 per cent on the previous year and well above the nearest competitor.