The famed City of Lights doesn’t shine quite so brightly these days. Locals complain of dirty streets, poorly maintained roads, scruffy street furniture, horrendous traffic jams, and growing uncertainty.
For some people, Paris will always be the most beautiful city in the world. There are plans to make the city more welcoming and pleasant to live in, by redeveloping the riverbanks, and creating new cycle paths and walking routes.
The Olympics of 2024 are not far away – so how ready is the City of Lights? To find out, we talked to both officials and ordinary Parisians. Many tourists and residents complain of a lack of cleanliness, citing overflowing trash cans, graffiti, fly tipping, and an infestation of rats. In response, the town hall has created a service called “La Fonctionnelle” including emergency teams.
But not all of the workers are so motivated. A garbage collector tells us about the high levels of absenteeism, and various strategies that his team use to avoid work. It also takes several months for potholes to be mended by the highway maintenance teams, due to budget and staff cuts.
Several thousand people a year move out of central Paris. These are mainly families, driven out by soaring rents and family apartments being instead used as AirBnBs. Many Parisians deplore the changes in the city.
The number of bars in the 2nd arrondissement has doubled, squeezing pavement and parking spaces for residents. The noise levels make it impossible to sleep at night. We speak to André, who has soundproofed his apartment. We also speak to Loïc and Jacques who denounce the “urban walk” in the 18th arrondissement. Two years after it opened, after an eleven million euro investment, the urban orchard is abandoned, the skate-park deserted and local residents are still just as afraid to walk there in the evenings.
Beyond the picture-postcard images – is Paris still the most beautiful city in the world?