In Paris aujourd'hui, a Day Without les Voitures

People walk on the Champs Elysees avenue during the "day without cars" (AP Photo/Thiabult Camus)

Forget bicycles — in Paris today it’s back to the future. All the way back:

Parisians and tourists were encouraged to stroll through the City of Light on Sunday as officials banned cars from its streets for a day. Paris has experimented with car-free days in the past, but Sunday marked the first time the entire city was handed over to ramblers, cyclists and roller-bladers.

Only emergency vehicles, buses and taxis were allowed on the streets from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Paris time.

“It’s nice for the air quality, for enjoying the city, walking around without any noise, without any risk to be run over by a car,” Maxime Denis said as he strolled near Place de la Republique in the city center. “But it should be a real no car day. There are still a few so we are careful.” Another resident, Francois Boillat, noted that “as a Parisian, I only use public transport all the time, even though I have a car buried in a sixth basement car park and I barely use it. It is a bit stupid. I should sell it.”

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected on a promise to curb air pollution and reduce car traffic in the French capital, where vehicle emissions are often high.


Looks like fun, but I wouldn’t want to make a habit of it. Having spent a good deal of my life driving around in Europe, the old cities can be a challenge to negotiate, but even an excellent public transport system like the Paris Metro needs to be augmented with automobiles in order to get where you need to go in a timely fashion. Especially in the rain, snow, sleet, and hail, which are northern Europe’s norm for most of the year.



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