France is not unique in seeing its service industry shut down in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. But compared to other countries, France has a robust safety net of social security, unemployment, and healthcare. France has also implemented emergency measures that may prevent many of these businesses from going under.
As French restaurants begin to slowly reopen for outdoor service, the culinary landscape in France looks very different when compared to the United States.
Government Aid: Two Countries, Two Philosophies
In March, President Emmanuel Macron said he would do “whatever it takes” to ensure that no company, big or small, collapsed under the financial weight of the pandemic. He announced 300 billion euros in loan guarantees and tax exemptions. The government also played a role in negotiating rent forgiveness for restaurants.
Perhaps even more helpful, at least in the short-term, were easy-to-access “solidarity funds:” 1500 euros per month given tax-free to small businesses, compounded with an additional allowance of up to 2500 euros from URSSAF, a social security union for small businesses. On April 15, Gérald Darmainn, Minister of Public Action and Accounts, also announced that the restaurant industry’s taxes and social charges – about 750 million euros – would be forgiven instead of merely suspended for the duration of administrative closure.
In the U.S., by contrast, most small restaurants didn’t qualify for loans, while huge corporations like McDonald’s and Shake Shack did. According to the New York Times, big chains were able to access “tens of millions of dollars while many smaller restaurants walked away with nothing when the $349 billion fund was exhausted [April 16].” The Los Angeles Times reported that those small businesses that did qualify were reluctant to apply for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program because of the “strings” attached to loans.
Restaurant Workers Feed Us, But Can They Eat?
As far as restaurant employees are concerned, in France, most are secure within the net of the country’s robust social structure. When forced closures were announced mid-March, restaurant workers were encouraged to first use up their paid vacation (an average of about five weeks per year) before becoming eligible for partial unemployment (the equivalent of 84 percent of their salary.) Continue reading “Are French Restaurants More Likely than American to Survive the Lockdown?”→
From James Baldwin to Jake Lamar, there are so many incredible black writers who have made Paris their home.
Every white writer who’s been to France has an essay, a memoir, a novel, or a poetry collection about the country. It’s practically a rite of passage. But Paris didn’t cease to exist once Hemingway was done with it. There are countless black writers who expatriated to France and wrote about the country with just as much insight and skill. So if you want to understand or live the expat experience, it’s time you start reading about the other side of it. (Consider also purchasing from a local black-owned bookstore, like Sisters Uptown Bookstore in NYC, Mahogany Books in Washington D.C., or Black Pearl Books in Austin.)
Where to start, but with James Baldwin? The Harlem-born writer moved to Paris in the middle of the twentieth century, at the age of 24, to escape the racism and prejudice he faced in America. In addition to works like Go Tell It On The Mountain and Notes on a Native Son, one of Baldwin’s must-reads is Giovanni’s Room, a quasi-autobiographical novel about a young black man who takes up with a handsome Italian in Paris, and one of the seminal works of black queer fiction.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s reelection manifesto calls for a green revamp of the Boulevard Périphérique, the city’s car-clogged inner ring urban highway.
By Feargus O’Sullivan
Like so many cities, Paris is girdled by beltways — several of them, in fact. The innermost and most notorious one is known as the Boulevard Périphérique, a 22-mile-long ring road completed in 1973 and built in part upon the footprint of the city’s historic walls. The traffic-clogged urban highway plays a major role in Parisian mobility, but it’s also a prime contributor of pollution, both atmospheric and aural, as well as an all-but-impassable barrier severing the historic city from its inner suburbs. Last year, Paris deputies proposed downsizing the Périphérique, removing vehicle lanes and dropping speed limits to transform the road from a smog-spewing limited-access highway into a tree-lined “metropolitan avenue.”
PARIS – French police have banned a demonstration planned to take place in front of the US Embassy in Paris on Saturday as protests mount around the world over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The Paris police department said on Friday it had decided to ban the demonstrations because of the risks of social disorder and health dangers from large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trouble had broken out at another anti-police demonstration in the French capital on Wednesday. Thousands had turned up despite a police ban on the event in memory of Adama Traore, a 24-year old black Frenchman who died in a 2016 police operation which some have likened to Floyd’s death.
Unrest has broken out across the United States after the killing of Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died after a white policeman pinned his neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.
Inaugurated in 1825, the Canal Saint-Martin stretches over five districts of eastern Paris. Once essential for transporting goods, it’s mainly used today by tour boats and pleasure cruises. Along its four kilometres, the canal with its nine locks lets both Parisians and tourists alike discover the French capital from a different perspective. FRANCE 24 went on board.