French chip stand irks ex-boss of L’Oreal

A chip shop camped outside his luxury French ski apartment is getting up the nose of British former L'Oreal CEO Lindsay Owen-Jones.

French chip stand irks ex-boss of L'Oreal
Valerie Maertens, the owner of the "La cabane" chips stall. AFP Photo/Jean-Pierre Clatot

On Tuesday, the millionaire ex-cosmetics boss and three of his neighbours will ask a court in the Alps town of Albertville to shut down La Cabane chip stand for causing "olfactory pollution".

The 68-year-old Briton, who stepped down as CEO of L'Oreal in 2011 and withdrew from its board last year, owns an apartment at the foot of the slopes in the upmarket Val d'Isere resort.

The couple and their neighbours say the smell of chip fat drifts up from the stand, which is situated next to the ski lifts, to their balconies and into their apartments.

They also complain of "noise and visual pollution," according to arguments prepared by their lawyers, which were seen by AFP.

The "remarkable view" from their apartments and "exceptional tranquility" of the surroundings are defiled by the eatery and its "numerous chairs and deckchairs, tables, tents and marquees, multicoloured parasols, rubbish bins and vehicles," the documents argue.

The plaintiffs will ask the court to order La Cabane's owner, Valerie Maertens, to pack up her fryers or face a fine of €50 ($62) a day.

In the event the court rejects their application they will ask for an expert valuation of the impact of the chip shop on the value of their properties, the documents said.

For Maertens's counsel Francois Bern the case of the "precious nostrils of Mr Owen-Jones" as he calls it, amounts to "legal harassment".

The Briton launched no fewer than five cases against the chip shop.

The retired businessman and his neighbours accuse Maertens of flouting Val d'Isere's planning laws, saying the chalet in which she dishes up chips was built for use by the resort's cable-car operator.

To support their case they quote a 2009 letter from the mayor, which warns the snack shop is in "an illegal situation".

Bern told AFP the municipality had approved the chalet's use for commercial purposes as far back as January 2008.

"It's a case brought by rich people who live in luxury and comfort, where everything smells of perfume, who want to stop this woman earning a living," he said.

La Cabane, he said was "a no-fuss place which has all the proper justification".

Owen-Jones's lawyers refused to comment on the case.

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