Protesters take to streets to save their cobblestones

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PARIS -- Early one Monday morning this month Raymond Lansoy awoke to discover workers armed with pneumatic drills outside À La Pomponette restaurant in Montmartre.

“They were digging up the cobblestones and covering the road with asphalt,” he said in a tone of outrage.

The work was part of a €3 million (£2 million) development designed to turn Montmartre into the sort of green, car-free zone that councillors thought would appeal to tourists and to the wealthy young professionals who have moved into the area.

But they were not counting on the resistance of longstanding residents....So fierce has been their reaction that two weeks after removing the cobblestones, officials are pledging to put them back...

Cobblestones are embedded in the district’s soul, and form the backdrop visualised by the likes of Van Gogh, Renoir and Utrillo when Montmartre was a magnet for renowned artists, they say.

“The council is killing le caractãre Montmartrois,” said Mr Langlois, 63, who led a demonstration of 30 people against the pneumatic drills.

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