A Paris street battles for its soul

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The battle raging on Rue Du Faubourg Saint-Denis, a shabby Paris street where hip bars are sprouting up like mushrooms, is part of a wider war in the city pitching sleep-starved residents against nocturnal revellers.

Here, as in districts across Paris, officials are trying to reconcile locals’ demands for peace and quiet with the French capital’s stated aim of regaining its lost reputation as a buzzing city with great nightlife.

The freewheeling scenes in Berlin, Barcelona or London have left Paris so far behind in the eyes of many revellers that Le Monde newspaper a few years ago dubbed it the “European Capital of Boredom”.

On Rue Du Faubourg Saint-Denis, where almost every month a Turkish kebab joint or grocery store closes down to reemerge as an uber-trendy cafe or restaurant, many locals would welcome a lot more “boredom”.

“It’s impossible to live on this street!” said Vianney Delourme, a 36-year-old editor who recently moved to a nearby street to escape the incessant noise — fights, laughter, shouts and smashing glass — on what is now one of Paris’s trendiest spots for folk looking for a boozy night out.

“The cafes dictate the law and the mayor does nothing. The police don’t give a hoot and the mayor doesn’t have the law enforced,” he fumed.

Delourme used to live in a flat overlooking Chez Jeanette, arguably the street’s trendiest bar, from where media, film and other creative types spill out onto the sidewalk to smoke and drink and flirt.

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