Calais busi­nesses dare to hope for ‘apres-Jun­gle’ boost

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

A new scent is in the air in Calais called “apres-Jun­gle”, but it is not an ex­otic af­ter­shave.

Rather it sums up the north­ern French port’s hopes and fears for the fu­ture fol­low­ing the dis­man­tling of the no­to­ri­ous “Jun­gle” mi­grant camp in its back­yard. The bars and restau­rants of the high street, the Rue Royale, “used to be packed with Bri­tons,” said pen­sioner Michelle Toulotte in a brasserie where staff out­num­bered the cus­tomers.

“It’s about time” the Jun­gle was cleared, said Christophe De­fever, owner of the Au Davyd­son brasserie, a stone’s throw from the town’s cen­tral rail sta­tion. “The economy has re­ally suf­fered since they’ve been here,” he said. “It’s eas­ier to count the shops that are closed than those that are open.”

While a quick tour of the city cen­tre re­vealed that to be an ex­ag­ger­a­tion, the shut­tered Le Tub disco in the Rue Royale at­tested to a more vi­brant past.

The economy of Calais, a town of 72,000 peo­ple that has long a bea­con for Bri­tish day-trip­pers hunt­ing for a bar­gain, be­gan to slump early last year when thou­sands of mi­grants con­verged on France’s north­ern shores, bent on reach­ing Britain. In June, the Brexit vote in Britain, which was fol­lowed by a slump in the value of ster­ling, also dented busi­ness morale.

Real es­tate de­mand has soured, es­pe­cially among in­vestors, ac­cord­ing to Eve­lyne Duriez, an es­tate agent in the high street. Me­dia ac­counts of the cri­sis have “dis­fig­ured Calais’ im­age” and scared off in­vestors, Duriez said, while not­ing that the property mar­ket has re­mained rel­a­tively sta­ble for trans­ac­tions be­tween lo­cals. — AFP

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