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PARIS, September 6, 2018 (AFP) - The Paris city council member in charge of housing said on Wednesday that he would propose outlawing home rentals via Airbnb and other websites in the city centre, accusing the service of forcing residents out of the French capital.

Ian Brossat told AFP that he would also seek to prohibit the purchase of secondary residences in Paris, saying such measures were necessary to keep the city from becoming an “open-air museum”.

“One residence out of every four no longer houses Parisians,” said Brossat, who is expected to head the Communist party list for European Parliament elections next year.

With some 60,000 apartments on offer in the city, Paris is the biggest market for Airbnb, which like other home-sharing platforms has come under increasing pressure from cities which claim it drives up rents for locals.

“Do we want Paris to be a city which the middle classes can afford, or do we want it to be a playground for Saudi or American billionaires?” he said.

Brossat has had Airbnb and its rivals in his sights for years, and recently published a book assailing the US giant titled “Airbnb, or the Uberised City”.

He wants to forbid any short-term tourist rentals of entire apartments in the First, Second, Third and Fourth Arrondissements of Paris, home to some of the world’s most popular sites including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the Louvre museum.

“If we don’t do anything, there won’t be any more locals: Like on the Ile Saint-Louis, we’ll end up with a drop in the number of residents and food shops turned into clothing or souvenir stores,” he said, referring to the Seine island in the shadow of the Notre-Dame cathedral.

“We’ll be living in an open-air museum,” he added.

Brossat hopes the measures will be included in a law aimed at overhauling France’s real estate laws to be debated this fall.

The administration of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has already taken action against Airbnb and others, requiring homeowners to register with the city and limiting the number of rentals to 120 nights a year.

Last month the city said the total amount of fines levied against home rental platforms rose to 1.38 million euros from January to August 15, compared with 1.3 million euros for 2017 as a whole.

Its crackdown echoes those in other hot tourist destinations including Amsterdam, Barcelona and Berlin.

Last month Airbnb sued the city of New York after it passed a law forcing home-sharing platforms to disclose data about their hosts, calling it a campaign “funded by the city’s powerful hotel lobby.”

PARIS, September 6, 2018 (News Wires) - Paris has claimed the honour of being home to the world’s top museum - but it’s not the Louvre.

In TripAdvisor’s annual Travellers’ Choice Awards for Museums, the Musée d’Orsay took the top spot for 2018, far ahead of the world’s most visited museum, the Louvre which is ranked seventh.

The TripAdvisor results show that popularity doesn’t always equal likeability. According to the 2017 Theme Index and Museum report, around 8.1 million people visited the Louvre last year making it the most visited museum in the world.

The report credited the 10 per cent increase in visits over 2016 to the tourism recovery following terrorist attacks and security concerns in Paris.

But after applying an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for museums around the world over a 12-month period, Orsay emerged the global winner on TripAdvisor’s list, with many fans describing it as less overwhelming and crowded than the Louvre.

After Orsay, New York’s National 9/11 Memorial and Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art round out the podium.

Overall, the top 10 list is dominated by museums in Europe.

 

PARIS, August 23, 2018 (News Wires) - A knifeman killed his mother and sister in the Paris suburb of Trappes on Thursday and seriously wounded a third person, a French Interior Ministry source said.

The young man, who killed his victims out in the street before taking refuge in a house, was later shot dead by police when he left that house and ran towards them in a threatening way, a police source said.

“The police operation is over ... the person was neutralised and is dead,” the local prefecture said on Twitter.

Islamic State issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack but provided no evidence. The statement came before it was confirmed that the victims were relatives of the attacker.

BFM TV said the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar”, but police could not immediately confirm it.

“The reason behind the attack and his profile are not known yet and are being looked into,” a police source said.

Counter-terrorism officials have yet to be asked to join the investigation, a judicial source said.

Trappes is an underprivileged town situated in an overall wealthy area west of Paris. Dozens of radicalised youths from the town of about 30,000 habitants have left for Syria.

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in his first purported speech in nearly a year, has called on followers to fight on despite recent defeats, according to an audio recording posted on the group’s media outlet on Wednesday.

PARIS, Aug 20, 2018 (AFP) — Paris’s biggest aquarium has created a refuge for goldfish, providing a second life for any unwanted pets who might otherwise find themselves flushed down the toilet.

The Aquarium de Paris allows the city’s residents to drop off their fish, with the numbers using the service swelling around the time of the long summer holidays.

Instead of facing death in the city’s sewerage system, the rejected goldfish find themselves given a full medical check-up involving antibiotics and anti-parasite treatments.

After a month in quarantine, during which a minority succumb to the trauma caused by the change in location, they are then released into a giant tank where they go on display to the public.

“Some of them arrive very weak,” said Celine Bezault, who cares for the fish at the giant aquarium complex which is located opposite the Eiffel Tower.

Since it was created two years ago, the goldfish rescue service has been used by around 50 people a month and the tank now contains about 600 specimens, mostly the classic golden-red version, as well as striped and black ones.

Rather than spending all day banging into the glass of a small bowl, here the fish have space to swim and plenty of company, allowing them to socialise and move around in groups.

Some owners hand over their pets tearfully, motivated by concern for their fish, while others appear relieved to be rid of them and the routines of feeding and cleaning.


Once in the bigger tank, some of the fish undergo a remarkable transformation.

Being confined in a bowl stunts their growth, but the bigger space means some of them will expand to full adult size.

“They can reach up to 20-30 centimetres (8-12 inches),” Bezault said.

For Alexis Powilewicz, director of the Aquarium, the service is part of efforts to to promote awareness about animal welfare.



TRIPOLI, July 23, 2018 (News Wires) — French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived in Libya today to push a Paris deal which paves the way for elections in the war-torn country.

Le Drian met the head of Libya’s UN-backed government, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, in the capital Tripoli ahead of a series of talks with various political actors.

Speaking Sunday in neighbouring Tunisia, France’s top diplomat said the visit was aimed at “making a success of the process which was approved during the Paris meeting”.

The May 29 Paris talks brought together rival Libyan leaders for the first time, including Sarraj and military strongman Khalifa Haftar whose self-styled Libyan National Army dominates the country’s east.

They agreed to work towards holding parliamentary and presidential elections by December 10, with the Le Drian’s visit aimed at maintaining pressure on Libyan leaders to prepare for polls.

“It’s necessary to continue to push along with those who are already in the process, to widen it to (include) others” in Libya, an aide to the foreign minister said.

The Paris agreement included a September 16 deadline to come up with an electoral law, forming the “constitutional base” for a vote later in the year.

Numerous observers view the timetable as overly ambitious, given ongoing instability with territorial disputes across the country and a flagging economy despite great oil wealth.

More than seven years since dictator Moamer Kadhafi was ousted, Libya remains divided with rival administrations in Tripoli and eastern Tobruk.

Aguila Saleh Issa, the parliament speaker based in Tobruk, and Khalid al-Mishri, head of the High Council of State in Tripoli, also attended the Paris meeting and agreed to support elections.

PARIS, July 16, 2018 (News Wires) — The Champs Elysees avenue is the beating heart of Paris, a magnet for millions of tourists but also a place of mass gathering when the French want to celebrate.

The emblematic avenue rapidly filled to capacity yesterday as Parisians revelled in France’s second World Cup victory. More than a million people invaded the broad thoroughfare on July 12, 1998, after France clinched the trophy on home soil.

The next day the world champions were driven down the avenue in a double-decker bus, although the crowds prevented them from going right up to the famous Arc de Triomphe.

As cherished by tourists as the Eiffel Tower just across the River Seine, the elegant avenue stretching for two kilometres (more than a mile) from the Arc de Triomphe down to Concorde Square was first laid out in 1670.

Tens of thousands of people daily throng the tree-lined artery which is home to luxury boutiques, chain stores, cafes, cinemas and high-end offices.

The Obelisk of Luxor at Concorde Square, the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre Museum are all visible from what is dubbed “the most beautiful avenue in the world”.

Every year it hosts major popular events like the traditional military parade on July 14, the Bastille Day national holiday — which this year fell on the eve of the World Cup triumph.

The Champs Elysees is also the finish line for the world’s toughest cycling race, the Tour de France, and hundreds of thousands of Parisians and tourists gather there to see in the New Year.

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