Austerity strikes: French city auctions wine cellar

One city has taken a unique approach to balancing its books.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

For cities, austerity measures usually mean cuts to local projects or services.

Here's a new one: a city in France has auctioned off half of its wine collection.

Dijon, a city of about 150,000 in eastern France, sold 3,500 bottles of wine for 151,620 Euro (about $204,000). The sale was "a first for the city," according to the city's website. The auction had "some rare and prestigious" wines, including a bottle of Vosne Romanee Cros Parentoux premier cru (1999) produced by Henri Jayer that sold for 4,800 Euro (nearly $6,500). About 80 percent of the profits will go to a social aid program. The rest will be reinvested in the city's wine stock.

As Bloomberg points out, the sale represents larger negative trends in the French economy:

The auction comes as President Francois Hollande works on shrinking the country’s budget deficit, bringing it down to 3 percent of gross domestic product this year from 4.5 percent last year. He has called on local governments to tighten their belts after pledging in November to cut public spending by 60 billion euros ($81 billion) over five years. ...

The sale came against the backdrop of comments from French Labor Minister Michel Sapin, who on the day of the auction said in a radio program that France was “totally bankrupt,” setting off a storm.

Tough times and no wine? That can't be a good sign of things to come.

Photo: Flickr/Éole

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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