PARIS – Champagne foie gras and “truffle-coated potato soup” are on a special dinner menu held across Paris that violates national coronavirus restrictions, according to French television.
The report, which relied on hidden camera footage and aired over the weekend by Channel M6, showed mask-free diners in places like private mansions and upscale restaurants. One dinner organizer initially said several French ministers had attended the illegal party before returning to his statement.
The report generated outrage in France, with thousands demanding an explanation on social networks and political leaders calling for stricter blocking rules. In response, the Paris prosecutor̵7;s office said on Monday it would investigate the illegal dinner.
The news comes amid exhaustion and extreme frustration over the seemingly endless cycle of coronavirus restrictions in France that has just entered a third national blockade to fight a third wave of infections.
The station’s report showed staff at an unidentified luxury restaurant serving an evening menu priced from € 160 to € 490, or about $ 190 to $ 580. Get advice
“We don’t wear masks here,” a white-clad waiter told a restaurant, an undercover reporter.
In another location, the mask-free guests will be seen at a dinner party held in a lavish private mansion. The owner of the mansion heard saying: “This week I had dinner at two or three so-called secret restaurants with a handful of ministers.”
The report did not identify the owner of the mansion, but Pierre-Jean Chalang, a famous businessman and collector. It was noted in an interview on Monday that a banquet was taking place at his mansion, although only nine people were invited.
The comments he had about the ministers attending the dinner, he said in a statement, was an attempt to have a sense of humor.
There was no clear evidence that any of the ministers attended the illegal rallies, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Monday that, according to his knowledge, no government officials were present.
The reports, however, sparked anger online Monday for hashtags such as #OnVeutLesNoms or #WeWantTheNames. This reflects widespread anger at the idea that the elite are breaking the rules that others have to follow. The issue remained popular on Twitter Tuesday, with new hashtags: #OnVeutLesDemissions or #WeWantResignations.
It is not the first time that some French restaurants have been secretly reopened during a severe outbreak due to violations of government rules. Cafes and restaurants have been forced to close in the last several years and have not reopened since the second shutdown last fall, angered many restaurant owners and diners. Enraged
As France enters a third blockade on Saturday, with schools and businesses not required to shut down for a month, there has been considerable resentment in the country. Opinion polls released on Thursday showed most French citizens were skeptical about the effectiveness of the new prison exit, and nearly half said they planned to breach the measure.
The interior ministry said on Tuesday that more than 7,000 restaurants have been inspected by police since October, bringing fines to 300 owners and 1,000 customers.
But while the illegal opening of small restaurants is often seen as a harmless resistance in the culinary realm. But the illegal dinner took a different chord, opening a window for the French elite.
Officers who breach restrictions they impose on others is a problem for many governments. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under intense pressure after close adviser Dominic Cummings was found to breach the blocking rule by cross-country travel.
Last month, France’s Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot attended a closed opera performance and took a photo with an undisclosed performer before testing positive for the coronavirus.
Many French government ministers have denied on television and radio that they had nothing to do with the secret dinner. If so, Mr Darmanin said on Sunday they should be prosecuted.
“There are no two types of citizens: those who have the right to party and those who are not,” he said.