Oldest Boulangerie in Paris set to close
The oldest “boulangerie” (bakery) in Paris, located at 51 rue de Richelieu in the 1st arrondissment, will close its doors on 31st December 2012. Bread has been sold on these premises for more than 200 years, but as another sign of the commercial times, the current owner can no longer afford the rent.
Claude Esnault, 66, had wanted to sell his business to a younger colleague so that he could finally hang up his apron after 43 years of service. However, selling 200 baguettes a day was not enough to make the business a going concern after the owners of the building decided to increase commercial rental rates from €18,000 a year to €35,000. In its place will be a shop that sells macaroons, popular with both tourists and residents alike.
Mr Esnault, however, is adamant that the street is dying as a neighbourhood. He remembers when rue Richelieu had three boulangeries, three boucheries (butchers) and a greengrocer. Now there are more sandwich shops and Asian eateries than shops to cater for the local residents.
This wealthy part of Paris is certainly changing, but are the owners of the building justified in effectively putting small businesses out of business? It obviously makes commercial sense to charge as much as possible, but does this do irreparable damage to the essence of the neighbourhood?
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