The controversy grew as quickly as a wave off the coast of Tahiti. And to avoid being disappointed, Anne Hidalgo was forced to explain this Tuesday about her three-week trip to the South Pacific. “For several days, this trip has attracted particular attention. Parisians have the right to have reliable, factual and transparent information about it,” we can read in a press release from City Hall sent Monday evening to the press.
Rewind. On October 15, the mayor of Paris, two of her deputies, and three colleagues flew off to New Caledonia. Anne Hidalgo meets the various Caillou authorities there, in particular the mayor of Nouméa, Sonia Lagarde. She also attended a tribute ceremony on the Isle of Pines at the Communards cemetery. The place is partly financed by the capital. “Paris makes its contribution so that it can be properly maintained,” she explains on site.
The small group then takes the plane to reach Papeete, in French Polynesia. Officially, the mayor of Paris is due to visit, on October 21, the infrastructures which will host the surfing events. Problem: Anne Hidalgo ultimately had to abandon this trip “due to local tensions linked to the construction of a judges’ tower”, specifies the Town Hall. On site, protests are growing against the installation of an aluminum judges' tower for surfing events, which would be harmful to the lagoon. The visit is therefore moved by one day... However, Anne Hidalgo still will not go there the next day, and is represented by her deputy, Pierre Rabadan, in charge of sport and the Olympic Games.
The mayor of Paris has in fact already left Tahiti to reach the island of Raiatea. There she meets her daughter, who has just moved there, for a two-week “private” vacation. Why not stagger your days off? “She could have, but she had to change her ticket,” says Pierre Rabadan in a long update interview on Sunday with Le Parisien. And above all, who financed this half-public, half-private trip? “The mayor of Paris extended her official trip with private time entirely at her expense. Anne Hidalgo returned on Sunday, November 5, financing her ticket. The return tickets for the rest of the delegation were covered by the city of Paris,” explains the press release. City Hall specifies that the mayor has, “in anticipation”, contacted the ethics commission “so that an opinion is given on this trip”, ensuring that “this opinion will be public”.
Enough to put an end to the controversy? Last Friday, the right-wing opposition group Changer Paris recalled that Anne Hidalgo had “never visited the Olympic site”: “Her trip to Tahiti paid for by the city of Paris no longer has any justification. This is a personal trip that Parisians do not have to pay for. Anne Hidalgo must be held accountable.” The subject will undoubtedly come up at the next Paris Council which will be held from November 14 to 17.