Banksy mural in Calais wiped out by house painters

A mural in Calais by the British street artist Banksy, whose works can sell for hundreds of thousands of euros, has been painted over by the owner of the building because he said the house was starting to look shabby and needed an upgrade.

Banksy mural in Calais wiped out by house painters
Banksy's version of The Raft of the Medusa in Calais before it was painted over. AFP.
The stencil was a version of the painting The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault showing a group of desperate survivors on a raft after a wreck.
It was given a modern, refugee-themed twist – a nod to the notorious “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais that housed thousands of refugees hoping to get to Britain – with the survivors trying to get the attention of a ferry on the horizon. 
It was one of three that the elusive British artist had produced in the port town in 2015 on the theme of migrants.
But the owner of the building on which The Raft of the Medusa was stencilled decided that it was more important to have his property upgraded than to preserve the work of art. 
“The wall was in a very bad state, and there was graffiti and part of the Banksy work had already been sprayed over,” Georges Lagouge told The Local. “You couldn’t see the ship on the horizon any more.”
“I would have been happy to have it (the mural) preserved but I contacted the town hall to ask them if they wanted to look after it and nobody got back to me,” he said.
“To sell it I would have either have had to sell the whole building (made up of apartments and a pharmacy) or somehow cut out that section of the wall. It would have been too complicated,” said Lagouge, who lives elsewhere and rents out the building.
So the painters were called in last week and, after removing the plexiglass that local authorities had put in place in a vain attempt to keep the mural in good shape, they painted over the work and restored the wall to its original white finish.
Pictures on Twitter showed a blank, white wall where Banksy's update on the 1819 masterpiece had previously stood (see below). 

Officials at Calais town hall did not immediately respond when asked by The Local if or why the town had failed to preserve an important art work.
Its removal now leaves just two of the three murals that Banksy produced in Calais.
The best known one is of the late Steve Jobs (see below), the founder of Apple, carrying a black bag on his shoulder and with an Apple computer in his hand. 
Steve Jobs by Banksy in Calais. AFP. 
The work – painted on a wall under a bridge leading into the now closed “Jungle” – was a reference to that fact that Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant to the United States.
But that work has also been disfigured, with someone spraying “London Calling” in huge letters around it and other smaller graffiti placed around it.
The most intact Banksy work remaining in Calais is an image on a building on the town’s beach of a young child gazing out to sea through a telescope. On top of the child's telescope is a vulture staring down (see below).
A Banksy artwork of a child looking out to see through a telescope. AFP. 
Having a Banksy on the wall of your house can add enormous value to your property. In London, luxury developers are doing up properties where street artists such as Banksy have left their mark and using it as a key selling point that lets them hike prices.
Georges Lagouge, who had his own personal Banksy removed, says he has no regrets about the sinking of the Raft of the Medusa.
“If they (local authorities) had wanted to look after it I would have been delighted. But they didn’t. I have no regrets, but if Banksy wants to come back and do another one on my wall, he’s more than welcome,” he told The Local.
by Rory Mulholland 


Everything you need to know about France’s 2022 summer sales

In France, you can only shop the best deals twice a year - during the soldes. Here is everything you need to know about this year's summer sales.

Everything you need to know about France's 2022 summer sales

They happen twice a year – Each year, France has two soldes periods: one in the winter, usually starting January, and another in the summer, usually starting in June.

This summer, the soldes will start on Wednesday, June 22nd in most parts of France and run for four weeks, so even though you might be tempted to go on the first day, keep in mind they’ll be going on for a while.

They are progressive, so items will be continuously marked down as the soldes wear on. If you wait, you are risking that your favourite t-shirt might sell out quickly, but if you’re lucky it might end up marked down even further.

During 2020 and 2021 the government altered sales dates and time periods to help shops cope with closures and lockdowns, but now we’re back to the usual timetable.

This is the only time stores can have “sales” – Technically, the soldes are the only time that stores are allowed to have sales, but the definition of ‘sale’ is important.

Basically, the French government qualifies a ‘solde‘ as the store selling an item for less than they purchased it for.

During the rest of the year discounting is allowed in certain circumstances, so you might see promotions or vente privée (private sales, usually short-term events aimed at regular customers or loyalty-card holders) throughout the year.

In these situations the stores might be selling items for less than their original price, but they are not permitted to sell the item for less than they bought it for. 

Shops are also permitted to have closing-down sales if they are shutting down, or closing temporarily for refurbishment.

They are strictly regulated by the French government – Everything from how long the soldes go for to the consumer protection rules that apply to the very definition of ‘solde’ is regulated by the French government, and the main purpose of this is to protect small independent businesses which might not be able to offer the same level of discounts as the big chains and multi-national companies.

Whether you shop in person or online, the same rules apply.

As a consumer, you still have the same rights as non-sales times regarding broken or malfunctioning items – meaning you ought to be entitled to a refund if the item has not been expressly indicated as faulty. The French term is vice caché, referring to discovering a defect after purchase.

On top of that, stores must be clear about which items are reduced and which are not – and must display the original price on the label as well as the sale price and percentage discount. 

READ MORE: Your consumer rights for French sales

They started in the 19th century – France’s soldes started in the 19th century, alongside the growth of department stores who had the need to regularly renew their stock – and get rid of leftover items.

Simon Mannoury, who founded the first Parisian department store “Petit Saint-Thomas” in 1830, came up with the idea.

Funnily enough, this department store actually is the ancestor for the famous department store Le Bon Marché. His goal was to sell off the previous season’s unsold stock in order to replace it with new products.

In order to do this, Mannoury offered heavy discounts to sell as much merchandise as possible in a limited time.

The soldes start at different times depending on where you live – The sales start at the same time across most of mainland France, but there are exceptions for overseas France and certain départements, usually those along the border.

France’s finance ministry allows for the sales to start at different times based on local economies and tourist seasons. 

For the summer 2022 sales only two parts of metropolitan France have different dates; Alpes-Maritimes sales run from July 6th to August 2nd, while on the island of Corsica they run from July 13th to August 9th.

In France’s overseas territories the sales are held later in the year.

You might qualify for a tax rebate – If you are resident outside the EU, you might be eligible for a tax rebate on your sales purchases.

If you spend at least €100 in one store, then you qualify. You should hold onto your receipt and tell the cashier you plan to use a tax rebate so they can give you the necessary documentation (a duty-free slip).

Then when you are leaving you can find the kiosk at the station or airport dedicated to tax rebates (détaxe) and file prior to leaving France. For more information read HERE