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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 March 2006, 02:25 GMT 03:25 UK
Paris shops bear brunt of riots
By Henri Astier
BBC News website, Paris

Rioters clash with protesters
Rioters have attacked shops and demonstrators at the protests
Opponents of France's new youth labour plan are hailing protests that have millions in recent weeks as a huge success.

But not everyone is celebrating.

Spare a thought for the long-suffering businesses located along the march routes.

"They broke two of our windows," says Nathalie Gosselin, owner of the Paris bar Le Reveille Matin.

Her establishment is located near Place d'Italie, where most of the demonstrations originated.

During a recent protest "thugs hit the shop windows on their way up the avenue, and hit the demonstrators on their way down".

Mrs Gosselin, who heads the local shopkeepers' association, says members are fed up with the protests.

Revenue lost

The owner of a bakery across the street says: "The police told us we should expect trouble, so we shut for three hours the other day.

Nathalie Gosselin
They devastated the suburbs last year, and now they want to do the same to posh areas
Nathalie Gosselin

"Unfortunately we re-opened 15 minutes too early. Young toughs burst in and raided the drinks cooler. We are scared."

Paris police say they get hundreds of such complaints after each march. The authorities are working on compensating shops that have been attacked - but owners contend that by far the greatest damage comes from revenue loss.

"On every demonstration day we close for three to four hours, and that means 20% less sales," says Michel Niort, who works for Les Gobelins bar, also near Place d'Italie.

The manager of a nearby opticians shop, Issam Bouzidi, puts the figure at 40%.

"Very few people venture here on a day of protests," he rues.


Jacques Dusseuil, who runs a fleet of vans serving hot food in various Paris areas, says he has had to pull out of many places since the start of the troubles a month ago, and his sales have halved.

"The troublemakers have nothing to do with the actual protests," he adds.

"They are just there to destroy and plunder."

Who are they? Ask any shopkeeper, and they will tell you that they are the same youths of immigrant origin who rioted across France's impoverished suburbs in November.

"They devastated the suburbs last year, and now they want to do the same to posh areas," Mrs Gosselin says.

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