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Parisians urged to be ‘accountable’ for dog poo

Another year, another campaign. Authorities in Paris have renewed their efforts this week to try to tackle the age-old problem of dog poo, the long-time scourge of the capital's streets. But will they ever succeed?

Parisians urged to be 'accountable' for dog poo
Photo: Mairie de Paris

The mayor of the French capital has launched a new poster campaign aimed at tackling the age-old problem of dog poo on the streets of Paris.

Visitors to the French capital have long complained about the unsightly problem and in recent months authorities in the city have stepped up their attempts to get dog owners to clean up after their mutts.

Late last year mayor Bertrand Delanoë announced he was doubling the financial penalty handed out to those who did not clean up after their pooch from €35 to €68. But in its latest move, the Town Hall has changed its tactics, hoping to remind dog owners to spare a thought for the city’s legion of over-burdened street cleaners.

Aimed at “raising awareness by drawing commuters’ attention to the daily work of street cleaners”,  the posters feature a smartly-dressed woman leading a dog away from a pile of excrement as a street cleaner appears behind them as if by magic to clear up the mess.  

Above the photo is the slogan: “We can do the best we can, but not the impossible” followed by: “Street cleaners clean behind us so let’s avoid leaving dirt behind them [dogs].”

“This is a campaign about accountability,” a spokesman for the Town Hall told The Local. “It’s about our collective role. The last campaign emphasized the punishment but this is more about people’s responsibility.”

French daily Le Parisien believes there may be an ulterior motive to the poster campaign. The newspaper ponders whether the mayor no longer wants to risk the wrath of Parisians by fining them and instead has opted for a softer approach because the crucial municipal elections are being held next year.

However, the Town Hall spokesman told The Local this accusation was “bullshit”.

“We will continue to hand out fines to dog owners who flout the law, " the spokesman added. "The number of financial penalties handed out in recent years has increased from 19,255 in 2009 to 21,673 in 2011.”

Will dog poo soon become a rarity on the streets of Paris? Read The Local's list of other French habits and traditions under threat.

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CULTURE

Asterix: Five things to know about France’s favourite character

Asterix is hitting the box offices again, so to celebrate here's a look at France's most treasured hero.

Asterix: Five things to know about France's favourite character

If you have walked past a bus stop anywhere in France in recent weeks, then you have likely run into film posters advertising Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom.

Starring high-profile French actors Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel, France’s film industry is hoping that this film, capitalising on France’s nostalgic relationship with the comic series “Asterix” will bring box office success.

The Asterix comic book series was first published in 1959, and tells the story of a small Gallic village on the coast of France that is attempting to defend itself from invaders, namely the Romans. Asterix, the hero of the series, manages to always save the day, helping his fellow Gauls keep the conquerors at bay.

As the beloved Gaulish hero makes his way back onto the big screen, here are five things you should know about France’s cherished series:

Asterix is seen as the ‘every day’ Frenchman

“Asterix brings together all of the identity-based clichés that form the basis of French culture”, Nicolas Rouvière, researcher at the University of Grenoble-Alps and expert in French comics, told AFP in an interview in 2015.

READ MORE: Bande dessinée: Why do the French love comic books so much?

The expert wrote in his 2014 book “Obelix Complex” that “the French like to look at themselves in this mirror [of the Asterix series], which reflects their qualities and shortcomings in a caricatured and complacent way”.

Oftentimes, the French will invoke Asterix – the man who protected France from the Roman invaders – when expressing their resistance toward something, whether that is imported, American fast food or an unpopular government reform.

The front page of French leftwing newspaper Libération shows President Emmanuel Macron as a Roman while Asterix and his team are the French people protesting against pension reform.

The figure of ‘a Gaul’ is a popular mascot for French sports teams, and you’ll even see people dressed up as Asterix on demos. 

A man dressed as Asterix the Gaul with a placard reading “Gaul, Borne breaks our balls” during a protest over the government’s proposed pension reform, in Paris on January 31, 2023. (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)

Asterix is the second best-selling comic series

The series has had great success in France since it was first launched in 1959, originally as Astérix le Gaulois. It has also been popular across much of Europe, as the series often traffics in tongue-in-cheek stereotypes of other European nations – for example, caricaturing the English as fans of lukewarm beer and tasteless foods.

Over the years, Asterix has been translated into more than 100 languages, with at least 375 million copies sold worldwide.

It remains the second best-selling comic series in the world, after the popular manga “One Piece”.

There is an Asterix theme park 

The French love Asterix so much that they created a theme park, located just 22 miles north of Paris, in the comic series’ honour in 1989.

The park receives up to two million visitors a year, making it the second most visited theme park in France, after Disneyland Paris. With over 40 attractions and six themed sections, inspired by the comic books, the park brings both young and old visitors each year. 

READ MORE: Six French ‘bandes dessinées’ to start with

The first French satellite was named after Asterix

As Asterix comes from the Greek word for ‘little star’, the French though it would be apt to name their first satellite, launched in 1965 after the Gaulish warrior.

As of 2023, the satellite was still orbiting the earth and will likely continue to do so for centuries to come.

Asterix’ co-authors were from immigrant backgrounds

Here’s become the ‘ultimate Frenchman’, but both creators of the Asterix series were second-generation French nationals, born in France in the 1920s to immigrant parents.

René Goscinny created the Asterix comic series alongside illustrator Albert Uderzo. Goscinny’s parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland. Born in Paris, René’s family moved to Argentina when he was young and he was raised there for the majority of his childhood. As for Albert Uderzo, his parents were Italian immigrants who settled in the Paris region.

Goscinny unexpectedly died at the age of 51, while writing Asterix in Belgium. From then on, Uderzo took over both writing and illustrating the series on his own, marking Goscinny’s death in the comic by illustrating dark skies for the remainder of the book.

In 1985, Uderzo received one of the highest distinctions in France – the Legion of Honour. Uderzo retired in 2011, but briefly came out of retirement in 2015 to commemorate the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists who were murdered in a terror attack by drawing two Asterix pictures honouring their memories.

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