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Paris falls out of top five in global city rankings

Published: 20 May 2014 11:59 GMT+02:00

Paris dropped two places to sixth in the 30 world-class cities ranked on the respected PricewaterhouseCoopers “Cities of Opportunity” index, which saw London take the number one spot.

Paris’s libraries, highly educated populace and respected universities brought it top honors for innovation and intellectual prowess. It was also deemed to have one of the world's best public transport systems and indeed the best when it comes to the coverage of the network.

Paris also came in the top five in categories such as Sustainability and the Natural Environment - putting it far ahead of London, as well as Economic Clout.

New York, Singapore, Toronto and San Francisco rounded out the top five. Stockholm, in at number seven, and Berlin at 11 were the closest European competitors to Paris. 

But the City of Light also has a few issues that were the cause of its fall from the top five -- most notably when it comes to cost. The French capital was ranked 23rd out of 30 when it came to the cost of living in the city.

One of its weakest points was housing. Anyone who has ever battled to win the honor of paying a whopping a rent to live in one of the capital’s pokey apartments, can attest to the challenges there. Paris came in 14th on the list.

Paris captured the same unimpressive ranking for traffic. Whether it’s accidents on the Paris’s ring road the ‘périphérique’ or creeping along behind bottlenecks on the capital’s narrow streets, driving here is no picnic.

“The greater Paris area, which aims to reinforce and optimize transportation between suburbs and the city, could certainly take it up a notch on the problem of traffic jams,” Bernard Gainnier, president of PwC’s operations in France and francophone Africa.

It doesn’t sound like there is much relief coming for frustrated drivers, but Paris Town Hall says help is on the way for housing.

“We are well aware of the problem,” Deputy Mayor for Housing Ian Brossat told French daily Le Parisien. “That’s why we adopted a battle plan yesterday during the meeting of the Council of Paris, that calls for the creation of 10,000 new housing units each year for the next six years.”

While London managed to bounce up to the top spot from third place year due to scoring highly in categories like technological readiness and economic clout, the overall quality of the two eternal rival cities isn’t that different.

“The gap is not huge,” Gainnier, the PwC executive, told Le Parisien. “Like London, Paris got a balanced score. Ultimately what made the difference was the growth rate of the country.”

With a record unemployment in France and a moribund economy, France is already well aware of the problem.

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Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

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