French café owner fined €190k for closing on Bastille Day

France has moved towards the culture of seven days a week opening hours but it's not been smooth as one story from the south of France demonstrates.

French café owner fined €190k for closing on Bastille Day
Photo: Sylvain Naudin/Flickr

Patrick Brun, who runs a Brasserie at the Grand Var commercial centre, near Toulon in southern France, decided to close on France's July 14th National Holiday – a day, when it has to be said, most shops and many cafés have traditionally remained shut.

Brun's decision would normally not have caused any issues, but for the fact the rules of the shopping centre stated that he had to open up.

The shops had taken advantage of a new law that allows for more flexible opening hours and voted to open up on seven Sundays and six public holidays throughout the year, one of which was July14th.

And as a result of his flouting of the rule book, brasserie owner Brun has been sent an incredible €186,000 fine.

The amount was apparently calculated on the basis of €10 per metre square of the premises for every 5 minutes that the café remained closed.

Needless to say Brun is furious and plans to fight the fine.

He has launched a petition hoping to win public support.

“€186,624 fine for not having forced my staff to come to work on the symbolic day of July 14th!” an angry Brun writes.

“No this figure is not the result of a computer bug…This fine is shameful.

“Stop the abuse of shopkeepers and staff at the Grand Var commercial centre,” he adds.

Brun was not the only landlord to be hit with a fine, with other shops that stayed closed on Bastille Day also being sent similar penalties.

The tobacconist must pay €72,000, the chocolate shop €40,000 and the jewellers €57,900 and even the lottery stand has to pay €12,000.

According to Var Matin newspaper the group that runs the commercial centre responded by saying: “It's not normal that shopkeepers don't respect opening hours that were voted through by the general assembly.”

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