• France's news in English
 
Paris unveils plan to be world’s first rat-free city
Can Paris really become the first ever rat-free city? Photo/ Screengrab

Paris unveils plan to be world’s first rat-free city

Published: 01 Apr 2014 08:09 GMT+02:00

The French capital might be known as the City of Light and the romance capital of the world but it is also infamous for its dirty litter-strewn streets and its burgeoning rat population that is now said to top eight million.

On Monday, Town Hall authorities unveiled an ambitious five-point plan, that they vow will turn Paris into the world’s first rat-free city in little over ten years from now.

 

“We will prove that it is possible to tackle the issue of rats,” Henri Faubier, the Town Hall's street cleaning tsar told press on Tuesday. “As individuals and as a city, that welcomes millions of visitors each year, we can prove that Parisians don't have to share their city with rodents,” he added.

Paris chiefs say they are taking inspiration from the Canadian province of Alberta which claims it has been rat-free for over 50 years.

With rat populations higher around the French capital’s tourist spots, visitors to the city may have to pay to fund the project, named Rat-Lib' out of their own pocket if they are not careful.

As part of the drive fines for litter dropping will be doubled to €60 and tourists will no longer be allowed to eat packed lunches outdoors at the hotspots like the Eiffel Tower from July to September, when the rat population is at its highest. On the spot penalty notices will be issued to those caught flouting the ban. In return The Town Hall will launch its "RatsApp" smartphone app so Parisians and tourists can log sightings of rodents.

“We receive thousands of complaints each year by tourists who have come face to face with rats at places like the Notre-Dame and the Sacré-Cœur. We understand they may not be happy about the new fines and ban on outdoor eating but we don’t want their experience to be ruined by rodents,” said Faubier.

Paris authorities decided enough was enough when they were named and shamed in AnimalPlanet.com’s Top Ten Worst Rat Cities last year.

Up until now however Paris has been one of the most pro-active cities in cracking down on rats.

Parisians urged 'to rat' on dirty neighbours

Each year around spring time the police launch their annual “war on rats” campaign to coincide with the huge migration of rats back to the streets as temperatures rise after winter.

A crack Town Hall unit nicknamed "Le Smash" (or Le Service Municipal d'Actions de Salubrité et d'Hygiène), which is tasked with improving street hygiene, encourages people “to rat” on their neighbours who ignore their instructions.

City authorities evidently take the rat problem seriously enough to issue verbal warnings and €450 fines to anyone who fails to comply with orders.

But designated rat squads have proved to be ineffective in a city where there are said to be four rats for every human and where hundreds of Parisiens are affected each year by leptosprirosis – a serious disease with extremely unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.

SEE ALSO: Swedes catch Viking 'rat from hell'

Air drop 'harmless' rat poison

Under Rat-Lib' the number of street cleaning staff in Paris will be quadrupled to 18,000 and will include specially trained “night squads” who will have the job of exterminating rats while most Parisians are asleep in their beds.

However Stewart Petite, from the umbrella AARRG union (Association of Anti Rat and Rodent Groups) demanded working conditions be improved and vowed his members would not work on Sundays.

"We want Paris to be free from rodents as much as anyone, but at the moment our members are using their bare hands at times to kill dozens of rats each night. It's not good enough. We need proper extermination equipment," Petite said.

The drive will also include incentives to encourage Parisians to allow their cats out at night. Authorities will pay for 10,000 electronic tags so cat owners will be able to keep tabs on their moggies as they roam the streets.

Perhaps the projects most ambitious plan is to air drop a new type of rat poison onto the streets of Paris on certain designated nights in the summer. The product, which authorities insist is completely harmless to humans, will kill rats instantly.

Special "clean-up" teams will then take to the streets en masse to gather in the dead rodents before commuters head to work in the morning rush hour. 

Rat-lib plan has so been well-received on social networks.

"The whole dreams about Paris. But the rats that are wandering everywhere...It's a fail. Disgusting...", said one French netizen on Twitter.

Beleaguered French President François Hollande has also hailed the project and the vital creation of thousands of new jobs. He has denied reports that a new "rat-tax" would be added onto payroll charges to cover the cost of the project.

“This project shows that Paris is willing to be bold and innovative and move with the times,” he said. “It will be the first city in the world to be rat-free and it will be the envy of capitals around the world.”

London's mayor Boris Johnson dismissed the idea that eight million rats could be driven out of a city, and joked that he would be willing to roll out the red carpet for any Parisian rat exiles.

Anyone with a rat problem in the French capital can call UPNA on 01 40 27 16 00.

April Fools’ update!

It’s midday in France, so it’s only fair we own up by now. Did we fool you?

As you may or may not have guessed, the above article contains a few falsities, notably the Ratlib plan itself. Although no doubt city authorities would love Paris to be rat-free, it is unlikely that they will ever see that day. There will be no ban on packed lunches or rat poison air drops and Parisians will probably not be letting their cats out at night, although we thought it was a good idea.

However there is a dedicatred rat police unit in Paris and they will be launching their annual war on rats in the coming weeks.

And new Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo did tell The Local how she plans to clear up the city's streets.

Thanks for reading.

 

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Corks pop as French fizz makes UNESCO list
A champagne vineyard in Villenauxe-la-Grande, near Epernay, eastern France. Photo: Alain Julien/AFP

Corks pop as French fizz makes UNESCO list

The historic vineyards and wine cellars of the Champagne region, where the world's most famous sparkling wines are produced, were listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO on Saturday. READ  

Calais migrants' crisis
Migrants disrupt Channel Tunnel traffic in Calais
Migrants climbing into the back of a lorry in Calais, northern France. Photo: Philippe Huguen / AFP

Migrants disrupt Channel Tunnel traffic in Calais

Traffic along the Channel Tunnel connecting Britain and France was disrupted late Friday night when dozens of migrants attempted to enter restricted areas of the tunnel in Calais, officials said. READ  

VIDEO
Paris opens parks 24h a day so locals can cool off
Photo: AFP

Paris opens parks 24h a day so locals can cool off

Authorities in Paris are to open parks at night to allow the the capital's residents to cool off, while one MP has proposed a new law allowing workers to go home when the mercury hits 35C. READ  

Guestblog - "J'aime McDo"
Why do the French love McDonald's so much?
Why do the French love McDonald's? Photo: AFP

Why do the French love McDonald's so much?

In the country that invented haute cuisine – Janine Marsh, editor of The Good Life France, asks "Just why are the French so-Mcdo-pro?" READ  

Uber suspends UberPop service in France
Taxi drivers called for an end to UberPop and they've got what they wanted, for now at least. Photo: AFP

Uber suspends UberPop service in France

Uber announced on Friday that it will be suspending its UberPop in France a week after the government and taxi drivers declared war on the controversial service. READ  

Travel warnings as France heads on holiday
Being stuck in a car or a train will not be pleasant this weekend. Photo: AFP

Travel warnings as France heads on holiday

It promises to be a hot weekend on roads around France and not just because of the heatwave. With the summer holidays about to start, warnings have been issued to motorists. READ  

Tour de France to take place amid tight security
Photo: AFP

Tour de France to take place amid tight security

The Tour de France, the world's most famous bike race gets underway on Saturday with French authorities promising security will be their top priority with the country on heightened terror alert. READ  

US orders a million donuts from France
A box of donuts, one million of which will be on there way from France to the US.

US orders a million donuts from France

Imagine a French customer putting an order in with a US firm to send one million croissants over the Atlantic. Well, the opposite happened this week. READ  

IN PICTURES
Angry French farmers send out distress call

Angry French farmers send out distress call

Tyres were set on fire, roads were blocked and manure dumped outside supermarkets on Thursday as thousands of struggling French farmers, angry at low prices, staged protests across the country. READ  

Paris steps up campaign to keep McDonald's out

Paris steps up campaign to keep McDonald's out

Paris Town Hall sent a clear message to McDonald’s this week, telling the US fast food giant, it would do “everything possible” to stop it opening a new giant outlet in an historic area of the capital. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
GPS helps blind French hikers cross mountains
National
Dreading the heatwave in France? Here's how to survive the sun
National
Brits might have the brighter economy but are the French happier?
Ryanair or French air traffic controllers: Who would you support?
How life will change in France as of July 1st
These are best places in Paris to escape the heatwave
Ten beaches in France where you'd love to be during the heatwave
Calais chaos: Travellers left to curse 'striking French'
Society
Why the French are right to strike (but perhaps not burn tracks)
Why France doesn't have much to lose from a Grexit
National
Frenchwoman dies as bungee jump ends in tragedy
Travel
The most beautiful French villages you've never heard of
National
Can we really feel any sympathy for French taxi drivers?
Feigned French shock over US spying is not fooling anyone
Gallery
When Franco-American relations turn sour - Ten transatlantic scraps
Sport
Dozens fall violently ill after 'mud race' in France
How a genetically modified 'jellyfish-lamb' ended being eaten in France
Culture
Ten must-visit movie scene locations in Paris
National
Paris to return historic squares to the people
Forget Nutella here's eight things the French should really give up
Sport
What the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris would look like
It's time to lay off the French - They are not that rude
National
Just look at what France has given the United States over the years
Health
France's creaking health service must change if it wants to stay world's best
National
French warn UK: 'Brexit could be your Waterloo'
Europe commemorates 200 years since Waterloo
National
Waterloo: What you need to know about Napoleon
French told stop eating Nutella to save planet
Is it time for France's empty churches to be turned into mosques?
French people told to stop scoffing Nutella in order to save planet
Society
French school teacher shows his pupils porn film
National
IN PICTURES: See the blaze that ravaged a French basilica
Video: Tourists shocked by Calais migrants scramble
The French words the English language needs to steal right now
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
Travel
13 ways France aims to become more welcoming to tourists
Education
Expat parents protest changes to admissions for Paris bilingual schools
Education
Test yourself: Just how good is your French grammar?
Travel
France to spend 'hundreds of millions' on tourism
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,586
jobs available