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Parisians Fight McDonald’s in Quarter Where Picasso Shopped

June 20, 1996

PARIS (AP) _ Crying cultural and culinary heresy, Parisians launched a food fight Thursday to keep McDonald’s from opening a restaurant in a building where Picasso bought his paints.

McDonald’s franchises are already all over the French capital, even on the Champs-Elysees. Now opponents are drawing a line in the cobblestones and declaring the city’s historic Montparnasse district off-limits.

``Is it really necessary to add another fast-food outlet here?″ asked Patrick Moreaud, who organized Thursday’s protest.

His call to arms was reminiscent of another in 1993, when Paris officials blocked the American hamburger chain from opening an eatery near the Eiffel Tower.

Now McDonald’s wants to put a restaurant in a 150-year-old building on leafy Vavin-Brea Square in what is known as Old Montparnasse _ a neighborhood better known for sidewalk cafes and traditional French restaurants with lace curtains.

No golden arches will mark the spot near the famed Luxembourg Gardens. But that hasn’t pacified neighborhood activists, who point out that Picasso, Modigliani and Soutine once frequented an art supply shop in the building.

If the franchise goes in, cheeseburgers and fries will be sold where those masters bought their brushes and oils.

Organizers said more than 16,000 people signed a petition asking city officials to block the burger joint.

Brad Trask, a spokesman for Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s, referred questions to company officials in France, who did not return telephone calls.

McDonald’s isn’t the only American fast-food establishment in Paris. There’s a Burger King on the Champs-Elysees, and the French capital is dotted with TGI Friday’s, Chili’s, Chi-Chis, Pizza Huts, a Planet Hollywood and a Hard Rock Cafe.

Known to the French simply as ``Mac Do,″ McDonald’s has been a presence in France since 1973. But the French have flinched at the tendency for the restaurants to sprout just about anywhere.

Residents of the southern city of Toulouse cried scandal a few years ago when McDonald’s opened a restaurant right on the cobblestoned central square. The restaurant is still serving Quarter Pounders _ known as Royales _ on the centuries-old promenade.

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