Home Food Street Vendors in Paris Are Selling Food Stored in Sewers: Report

Street Vendors in Paris Are Selling Food Stored in Sewers: Report

Street Vendors in Paris Are Selling Food Stored in Sewers: Report

  • Street vendors in Paris were found storing food in the city’s sewers, per Le Parisien. 
  • Several videos show vendors putting items into and taking them out of the ground.
  • The deputy mayor of Paris said tourists should be especially cautious of these vendors.

Street vendors in Paris have been caught storing food in the city’s sewers, local newspaper Le Parisien reported in October.

These vendors, who sell crepes and sandwiches, were found storing ingredients in manholes along the Champ-de-Mars near the Eiffel Tower, per the report.

“Many use frozen dough that has been stored in questionable conditions. To mask the smell and rancid taste, they sprinkle it with vanilla sugar,” one vendor told Le Parisien in French. The vendor was not identified in the report.

A video posted by Le Parisien showed several clips of people removing bags containing food from sewer access points and electricity grates. One clip showed a man placing a bucket underground and walking to a food cart. Business Insider could not independently verify the authenticity of the clips.

Crepe batter and other types of food, including meat and beverages, were also found stored in manholes, hatches, and vents, Le Parisien reported, citing a resident who lives in the 7th district — an affluent neighborhood and home to the Eiffel Tower. The food is then reheated and put up for sale, per the report, citing another local resident.

Frank Delvau, president of the Union of Hospitality Trades and Industries of Paris and the Ile-de-France, said the sellers represent a public health risk, noting they have no way to wash their hands, per Le Parisien. Some were seen selling “tainted merchandise, water bottles filled up at the tap,” Delvau said.

Delvau said the food stands are not often not licensed. Many of the vendors themselves are undocumented and exploited by criminal organizations, he said.

They also present unfair competition for local licensed restaurants that “pay rent, fees, and need to face inspections from hygiene regulators,” said Delveau.

“We’re about a year away from the Olympics, and if we do nothing, it will become a veritable illegal food market around the Eiffel Tower,” David Zenouda, vice-president of the Union of Hospitality Trades and Industries of Paris and the Ile-de-France, told Le Parisien.

Nicolas Nordman, deputy mayor of Paris, told Le Parisien he was aware of the dangers these vendors pose, especially to people visiting the city.

“We must warn potential consumers, often tourists, of the dangerousness of the products on sale, because it is a real public health issue,” he said.

Rachida Dati, the mayor of the 7th district of Paris, told Le Parisien that the city has started cracking down on these unsanitary practices.

“In each intervention, the police seize and destroy 30kg of merchandise. During the week of September 11 to 16, they seized 380 bottles of water, 50 of wine, 200 of beer, and 90 ears of corn,” she said.

Paris police chief Laurent Nuñe spoke about putting an end to street vending before the 2024 Olympic Games. “We will, of course, have completely eradicated the phenomenon of street vending, fortune-telling and other delinquent activities,” Nuñe said, per Euronews.

This incident comes after an American tourist visiting in August voiced his concerns about Paris being infested with rats. And in September, the French capital reported battling a major bedbug infestation.

Nordman and Dati did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, sent outside regular office hours.

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