Paris to the People

Angelique Chrisafis delivers the fantastic news that, after more than four decades of auto dominance, Paris is returning its riverfront to its people in a "pedestrian 'reconquest' of the banks of the Seine."
August 3, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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After being blocked by former right-wing prime minister François Fillon, the French capital's Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoë "has won his quest to break up the two-lane urban motorway that has run along the edge of the Seine since the 1960s, and return Paris's riverside world heritage sites to walkers and cyclists," writes Chrisafis.

Opened in 1967 by Georges Pompidou, the Seine's riverside expressways will be turned over to pedestrians, bars and cafes beginning next month. By next spring, the centerpiece of the €40m project will be unveiled: "a 2.5km car-free zone on the left bank, between the Musée d'Orsay and the Pont de l'Alma, with a riverside park, pedestrian promenades, floating botanic gardens, flower-market barges, sports courts, restaurants and even perhaps an archipelago of artificial islands."

According to Chrisafis, "Delanoë promised his new scheme would 'give Parisians back their river', 'profoundly change' the city and provide 'an opportunity for happiness' for residents. But the mayor, who will not stand for re-election in 2014, also has an eye on his legacy, seeking to be remembered as the man who finally ended Parisian reverence to the car. He has expanded cycle routes and introduced the city's famous short-term bike-hire and car-hire schemes."

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Published on Thursday, August 2, 2012 in The Guardian
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