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French island loses battle to stay McDonald's-free

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French island loses battle to stay McDonald's-free
Oléron launched a 'Sustainable Food Zone' as art of its battle to keep McDonald's out. Photo: AFP
12:13 CEST+02:00
A French tourist island has lost its battle to stop McDonald's setting up shop on it shores after a court ruled that it must grant the American fast food giant a building permit.

An appeal court in Bordeaux has ordered the town of Dolus-d'Oléron, on the highly popular Atlantic island of Oléron, to let the fast food chain start building a restaurant there.

The town mayor Grégory Gendre, who for years has led efforts to block McDonald’s on the grounds that it does not fit with Oléron’s low-key, eco-friendly ambiance, said he would consider another appeal but that this was unlikely.

His town has paid a hefty price in its battle against the burger chain.

A lower court in Poitiers a year ago ordered it to grant the building permit and if it failed to do so to pay 300 euros every day that it was withheld.

The Bordeaux court upheld that judgement, which means that Dolus-d'Oléron now has a total of 105,000 euros to pay, with 300 more euros clocking up for every extra day until it issues the building permit.

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Earlier this year mayor Gendre launched a sustainable food zone, provocatively named “McDolus”, as part of his battle to keep the island McDonald’s-free.

Gendre, along with 200 volunteers, transformed an old farm into a food zone dubbed “McDolus”, which combines the name of the fast-food giant with that of the town.

Among the fare on offer was a version of a 'big mac meal' that included organic oysters, eel with parsley, and local wines.

But not everyone in Dolus was happy about the island ban on fast food.

Back in January 2015 people took to the streets in protest, claiming their right to tuck into “un hamburger et frites”.

This love-hate relationship with “McDo” and fast food is very much a French phenomenon.

There have been campaigns against McDonald's “aggressive marketing” in Paris and elsewhere, but there have also been calls for McDonald's to open, or to stay open, in fast-food hungry towns, and the French are known to have developed an appetite for the US's calorie-heavy grub.

In fact, a March 2018 study found that “le hamburger” is now the most popular snack in France, appearing on 85 percent of French menus.

The McDonald's turnover figure in France in 2017 was a staggering €4.85 billion.
 
To put that in context the turnover of the next biggest restaurant group in the industry - the Bertrand Group which owns Burger King, Au Bureau, Quick and Hippopotamus - was a measly €1.7 billion in 2017. 
 
And McDonald's turnover rose 4.1 percent on the previous year showing the French love for McDo is only deepening.
 
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Why do the French love McDonald's so much?

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