IT has long been known the world over as the city of love and light, but shocking images flooding social media depict Paris in a different light entirely.

How so?

Using the hashtag "SaccageParis" - which translates as "trashparis" in English - one social media user began uploading images taken on their tours of the city, showing mounds of rubbish in public places, from soiled mattresses and abandoned cars to overflowing bins and dumpsters.

And then?

Other Parisians joined in, using the hashtag to spotlight their own pictures, with many locals saying they show Paris as a "shanty town" and “dump”. One Twitter user posted a picture of a mattress and dozens of cardboard boxes and plastic bags strewn across a street, saying: “Ultra-sided city that turns into a dump because of the decisions of the town halls but also because a lot of people are big pigs who don't give a damn about the state of their streets."

What’s going on?

Many blame socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo - who became Paris's first female leader in 2014 and was re-elected to a second term last year - for failing to get a handle on the situation and say she has “abandoned” Paris. Now, far-right politician Marine Le Pen - a former presidential candidate - is using the situation to decry not just Hidalgo, but socialist politics overall.

She could be playing a long game?

Commentators say Le Pen is using the situation for political gain, building up to a new challenge for the presidency. On Twitter she said: “The thousands of images shared with the hashtag #SaccageParis breaks the hearts of lovers of Paris. Bravo to the revolted Parisians! The degradation of our beautiful capital by the Hidalgo team is a national suffering that should not leave any French indifferent."

City leaders have hit back?

After the hashtag began trending on Twitter, the City of Paris said it had “undergone a campaign of denigration”. Officials said the number of cleaning staff had been felled by 10 per cent due to the pandemic which “may lead to processing delays”, adding: “Like all cities in France, Paris is faced with incivility and problems of regulating public space”.


The suggestion that the mess was due to a smaller cleaning workforce sparked yet more online fury. Rachida Dati, the mayor of the 7th district of Paris tweeted: “We demand the immediate holding of an exceptional Paris Council dedicated to the problems of cleanliness and sanitation in Paris.”

And more than that?

French 'L'Opinion' journalist Emmanuelle Ducros responded to the City of Paris, saying: “The problem is not the cleaners. It is the abandonment of the city…” And she added: “Paris is a historic city, it belongs to the world…Give us back Paris.”

What does the “SaccageParis” originator say?

The anonymous tweeter - "Paris Propre” said: “By launching Saccage Paris, I did not think it would take this magnitude. Yet not surprising. The current disaster could not remain without a massive reaction. We are thousands and we say stop.”