Shocking photographs are flooding social media showing famed Parisian streets overflowing with garbage, soiled mattresses, abandoned cars and various other kinds of filth.
The iconic city of lights has been gradually transformed into a town of trash over recent weeks and locals in the French capital are furious.
Cobblestone streets, narrow laneways, tranquil waterways, garden beds and sprawling parks across a large chunk of Paris have become dumping grounds for anything and everything.
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A single anonymous social media user began uploading images of their encounters with mounds of garbage in public places last month, alongside the hashtag #SaccageParis – or #TrashParis in English.
It’s since exploded, with thousands of jaw-dropping photos chronicling the degradation of Paris into what locals describe as a “shanty town” and “dump”.
Paris City Council officials blame a 10 per cent reduction in the number of cleaners employed to keep the streets clean, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But angry locals say the downfall of the capital began long before COVID-19 reared its head, with the city simply abandoned by its politicians.
While the garbage is the primary issue that catches one’s eye, a closer look reveals that much has fallen into a state of disarray.
Planter boxes are broken or graffitied and contain long-dead shrubs, benches are crumbling or have been pulled off, fuse boxes are falling from walls and street signs are missing, to name a few maintenance issues.
And many blame a single person – Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
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The Socialist politician, who became the city’s first female leader, was re-elected to a second term last year.
But the issue of sanitation and cleanliness in Paris threatens to undermine her position and future political aspirations.
Claims of a smear campaign emerge
Marine le Pen, a far-right figure in France and former presidential candidate, has used the rubbish saga to attack Ms Hidalgo and socialist politics more broadly.
Overnight, the Paris City Council finally responded to the criticism by claiming the Twitter campaign was the work of far-right figures engaged in dirty politics.
It echoes the sentiment of socialist politician David Assouline, who speculated that Ms Hidalgo’s widely tipped aspirations to run for president next year has the right spooked.
At the same time, the City Council conceded that “like all the cities of France”, Paris is suffering “from incivility” when it comes to cleanliness.
And to counter the attacks, the official Twitter account of the city of Paris began posting idyllic – and clean – photographs from across the capital.
However, the depiction of different seasons and weather conditions in them suggests they are not current snapshots.
Emmanuelle Ducros, a prominent journalist and commentator, took to Twitter to angrily fire back at the city’s official response.
“The problem is not the cleaners,” Ms Ducros wrote.
“It is the abandonment of the city, the colonisation of the public space by delirious developments.”
The iconic Saint Ambroise square has become a “shanty turned” overtaken by “piles of garbage”, she said.
“You call it a ‘smear campaign’ (but) it is simply the fed up of the despised inhabitants, who have the feeling of living in an unhealthy, tinkered, degraded, unmaintained dump by people who have nothing but ‘reinvention’ in their mouths.
‘We are not asking to reinvent, we are asking you for a clean, maintained living environment, not a (city) everyone wants to wreck (because) it is so filthy.
“Paris is a historic city, it belongs to the world. This is not your buddy’s backyard. Give us back Paris.”