Paris shopping district is city’s most polluted spot

A new report released this week highlighted the most polluted areas of the French capital. Surprisingly, it was the city's wealthy western shopping district, including Paris's most famous avenue, that has the dirtiest air.

Paris shopping district is city's most polluted spot

The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, has been waging war on pollution since he was elected in 2001, but his battle appears to have been in vain if new figures on air quality released this week are anything to go by.

The EU might have declared 2013 as the "Year of Air", but it hasn’t be commemorated in the Paris region, where three million people were exposed to levels of pollution above the norm, according to the report by Airparif.

“Once again the situation is worrying and it is undermining the health of the population,” said the group Doctors of Paris, which has launched an appeal to fight pollution.

Karine Leger, deputy director of Airparif told Le Figaro that although pollution levels dropped slightly in 2012 compared to the previous year, overall they have remained stable.

The place in the Paris region most exposed to potentially harmful levels of air pollution is unsurprisingly the peripherique, the ring road which is choked up by around 250,000 vehicles each day.

But perhaps more surprisingly, it's the wealthier areas of the city’s right bank which dominate the top of the charts for the most polluted areas within the city of Paris itself.

Place Victor-et-Helene Basch near Porte d’Orléans, in the south of the city, comes in top of the rankings for having the dirtiest air in the city but at number two comes the famous Avenue Champs-Elysées where thousands go each day to shop at the capital’s most famous stores.

Unfortunately 80 000 vehicles join the throngs on the avenue each day.

Occupying third place in the chart of Paris’s most polluted areas is another famous landmark, Place de l’Opéra, and in fourth comes Boulevard Haussmann, home to the city’s Grands Magasins.

These three points form a triangle of the most polluted part of the city.

According to Airparif nine out of ten Parisians were exposed to raised levels of pollution last year. Among the 60 pollutants measured, the most concerning one found to be exceeding the limits is nitrogen dioxide,  which can cause irritation to the respiratory tract.

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Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

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