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Homeless Paris pizza maker appeals to Macron to help France’s rough sleepers

A homeless pizza maker in Paris has appealed to President Emmanuel Macron to help those sleeping rough in France just as the capital gets ready to count the number of people living on the streets.

Homeless Paris pizza maker appeals to Macron to help France's rough sleepers
Homeless people are a common sight on the streets of Paris. Photo: AFP
Moncef, 49-years-old, told the story of how he came to be homeless in the French capital in an open letter printed in left-wing newspaper Liberation.
 
“I was born in Tunisia. I arrived last summer from Pisa, where I spent several years. I left my 20-year-old son in Italy to work at Pizza Burger in Paris,” he wrote. 
 
“Monsieur Macron, look: I am in France, I work and I don't have a roof over my head.
 
“I'm not asking for 'la dolce vita', just a small room and dignity.” 
 
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Moncef goes on to say that every night he has to call 115 — the phone number used to secure emergency shelter for the night in France. 
 
“Go on, Monsieur Macron, try it one time. Call 115. You'll wait two or three hours before telling your life story. Every day, it's the same circus. With a little bit of luck, they'll find you a place in a welcome centre (centre d'accueil).”
 
The letter also describes the shocking state of one of these centres in the 18th arrondissement in the north of the French capital. 
 
“I stayed there an hour before escaping. It was dirty and disgusting there. It's Libya. It's the shame of France,” he said. 
 
“Could you spend a night surrounded by drunks, junkies and sick people? There's mice, piss and shit. Stay an hour and you'll get ill.”
 
Moncef goes on to say that this is reason why even when it's snowing “some people prefer to walk around the streets or sleep in Metro stations.”
 
“There is no choice, far from that. I prefer to hold on to my dignity, monsieur,” Moncef finished his letter. 
 
“I am not angry with you, Monsieur President, but you must help us.”
 
A homeless man lies on a street in Paris. Photo: AFP
 
There's no doubt that the scale of the problem of rough sleeping on the streets of Paris is hard to ignore, with the sheer number of people begging in the French capital raising the eyebrows of locals and visitors alike.
 
However, the pizza maker's letter comes soon after an MP from Macron's own political party La Republique en Marche! was reported as saying that the majority of people sleeping on the streets did it by choice. 
 
 
On Thursday, Paris will see an army of 1,700 volunteers take to the streets with the aim of counting the number of people living on the streets. 
 
Dubbed Nuit de la Solidarite (Night of Solidarity) it is hoped that by having an exact figure for the number of people sleeping rough, which the government doesn't currently have, services will be better distributed. 

TRAVEL NEWS

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro

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