Save Accents in MySQL Database

I’m trying to save French accents in my database, but they aren’t saved like they should in the DB.
For example, a “é” is saved as “é”.
I’ve tried to set my files to “Unicode (utf-8)”, the fields in the DB are “utf8_general_ci” as well as the DB itself.
When I look at my data posted through AJAX with Firebug, I see the accent passed as “é”, so it’s correct.

PHP: Replace umlauts with closest 7-bit ASCII equivalent in an UTF-8 string

What I want to do is to remove all accents and umlauts from a string, turning “lärm” into “larm” or “andré” into “andre”. What I tried to do was to utf8_decode the string and then use strtr on it, but since my source file is saved as UTF-8 file, I can’t enter the ISO-8859-15 characters for all umlauts – the editor inserts the UTF-8 characters.