PARIS - Hand it to the French. Who else would pick an economic collapse as a time to unveil one of the most audacious urban plans in recent memory?
The architect Richard Rogers proposes burying the main train tracks underground, with a vast system of public parks draped over them, connecting to poor and middle-class neighborhoods.
Yet the 10 proposals for a new master plan for metropolitan Paris, which were unveiled last week, may just be the kind of brazen idealism the world needs right now.
The results of a nine-month study commissioned by President Nicolas Sarkozy, the proposals aim to transform Paris and its surrounding suburbs into the first sustainable "post-Kyoto city," a reference to the treaty on climate change, with an expanded Métro system and sprawling new parks.
The government has yet to say how it would raise the money to build this new city. And Mr. Sarkozy's opponents, who have sometimes dismissed him as "President Bling-Bling," have questioned whether this is anything more than an elaborate publicity stunt.