French market - c'est magnifique

A CONTROVERSIAL French market could become a permanent fixture in a town after receiving a warm welcome on its second visit.The friendly reception left anxious dignitaries in Sudbury relieved only six months after the market, La France Chez Voux, received a frosty reaction from locals.

A CONTROVERSIAL French market could become a permanent fixture in a town after receiving a warm welcome on its second visit.

The friendly reception left anxious dignitaries in Sudbury relieved only six months after the market, La France Chez Voux, received a frosty reaction from locals.

Civic leaders say the market could now become a permanent twice-yearly event in the town thanks to the latest reception.

In April town officials were left "embarrassed and ashamed" when the French traders suffered racist and abusive comments from several shoppers during their first visit to the town.

At the time some people were furious that France had refused to back Britain and the US over the Iraq war.

Others still held a grudge over the ban on British beef or felt more should be done to support local traders rather than outsiders.

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Many traders in North Street also claimed the market blocked their entrances losing them up to 40% of their usual trade.

Despite the criticism Sudbury Town Council decided to invite the continental traders back to the town after a survey revealed many people were in favour of the market and wanted to see it return.

The market set up stall again yesterdayin North Street for the beginning of a four-day stay, with its usual array of garlic, baguettes, soaps and wines on sale. So far there has been no sign of the anti-French feeling evident in the town during the last visit.

Town clerk Sue Brotherwood said: "So far everything has been fine and the market has received a much warmer welcome than last time.

"There are the same amount of stalls and I have been out walking around and I haven't heard any abuse this time.

"I think last time emotions were running high because of the war on Iraq, but I don't think there will be any problems this time.

"If the council feels the market was a success once everything has been evaluated it could become a permanent fixture and be invited back twice a year."

Market organiser Alain Wiecek said the French traders are used to a small amount of abuse from a minority of shoppers, but that it did not bother them: "We have no worries about returning to Sudbury and would love to come back again."

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