France investigates secret restaurants for Paris elite

FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, Oct.8, 2020, empty tables at a cafe terrace in Lille, northern France. The Paris prosecutors office on Monday April 5, 2021, announced an investigation into accusations that government ministers and others dined in secret unidentified restaurants in violation of pandemic restrictions. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler, FILE) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

PARIS – Champagne, lobster and no masks: That's what a French TV documentary says is on the menu at one of multiple high-end “clandestine restaurants” catering to the Paris elite, in violation of nationwide pandemic restrictions.

What's even more shocking to the newly confined French public — and exhausted medical staff — is that one organizer claimed government ministers are among those who attend.

French authorities are investigating the accusations, and government members scrambled to insist they're behaving properly.

Anti-capitalist activists and critics of President Emmanuel Macron aren't convinced, and plan a protest Tuesday — advertised on social networks under the banner “Let’s Eat the Rich” — at one of the alleged secret venues,

The Paris prosecutor’s office said Monday that an investigation was opened Sunday into possible charges of endangerment and undeclared labor, and to identify the organizers and participants of the alleged gatherings.

A documentary that aired on French network M6 over the weekend included a man saying that he had eaten in two or three clandestine restaurants “with a certain number of ministers.”

The prosecutor’s office said Monday that the investigation is continuing despite reports that the man featured in the documentary had retracted his claim.

Government members denied knowledge of any wrongdoing by their colleagues. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin asked police to look into the claims.