Trouble brewing for Starbucks in France

IT WAS a favourite haunt of Hemingway and Picasso, and today is a hive of painters, street artists and cartoonists. But defenders of Montmartre's Place du Tertre say the artistic luminaries will be turning in their graves over proposals for a Starbucks outlet in the district's fabled square.

As part of a drive to increase the number of its stores in Paris, the US chain is due to open an outlet in the cobbled square next month after buying a brasserie reportedly forced to close due to ''hygiene problems''.

One local scrawled ''it's rubbish'' over the sign announcing the demise of the Au Pichet du Tertre brasserie and the change of owner.

Pierre Brabant, of the association Paris Fierte (Paris Pride), said the arrival of Starbucks in the heart of Montmartre struck a blow to its Parisian soul.

''Twenty years ago, McDonald's tried to set up on the Butte [de Montmartre]. The fast food giant had to throw in the towel. Here again we have no intention of giving in,'' he told Le Figaro newspaper.

International clothes chains were already encroaching further down the hill in Abbesses, below the Sacre Coeur, Montmartre's iconic white church, Mr Brabant said. The arrival of Starbucks in what was the centre of Montmartre when it was surrounded by vineyards represented the last straw, or, as he put it, ''the drop of coffee that makes the vase overflow''.

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