People, Travel

French Outraged Over Beach Closure for Saudi King

French Outraged Over Beach Closure for Saudi KingFrench Outraged Over Beach Closure for Saudi King

Residents of a French coastal town are angry about a beach on the French Riviera being closed for the personal use of the visiting king of Saudi Arabia.

Officials in Vallauris, located on the Mediterranean coast between Cannes and Antibes, said they would restrict public access to a strip of sand near a villa owned by King Salman, UPI reported.

The French coastguard has also barred vessels from traveling within 984 feet of La Mirandole Beach, where the villa is located.

King Salman is spending his summer holiday at the 1930s villa formerly known as the Château de l’Horizon, where Winston Churchill and Hollywood celebrities once stayed. Up to 500 members of the royal court are expected to join him either in the villa or in luxury hotels in Cannes.

The property, which has its own private port, was described by Punch magazine in the 1930s as a “white palace set on the water”.

The measures are being implemented for security reasons, officials told reporters, asserting that any visiting head of state would receive the same level of protection.

Aside from not being able to access the beach, locals were also angered by the construction of a private gate and elevator allowing the king direct access to the shore.

“Not only were they installing a gate on public property, but also pouring cement on the beach to install an elevator linking the house and the beach,” Vallauris town councilor, Jean Noel Falcou, the head of a local environmental protection association, told CNN.

The BBC reports the Saudis have promised to dismantle the elevator before they leave.

French politician Nicolas Dupont-Aignan told radio station France Inter: “What shocks me is that we appear to have returned to the ancient regime in our country. It’s the end of the equality of rights … There are security reasons and perhaps compromises to be found, but as a general rule what revolts our citizens is that the law is different if you are rich than if you are poor.

“There’s a need for justice and equality. It’s the appropriation of a public space by a foreign head of state.”