Paris vows it is ready to clean up its streets

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
Paris vows it is ready to clean up its streets
The Canal Saint Martin area of Paris that has been plagued by litter problems. Photo: AFP

City chiefs are set to introduce harsher penalties for littering in Paris in an attempt to clean up the capital’s reputation as a filthy city.


Paris may be seen as the most beautiful city in the world but it also has an uglier side that has earned it an unwanted reputation among visitors of being one of the most dirty capitals in Europe.

Its official name may be the City of Light, but foreigners have often referred to Paris by less complimentary nicknames such as the "City of Litter", given the rubbish that is often strewn across the streets or even the "City of Dog Sh*te" given the piles of dog mess that dot the pavements.

In a 2012 Tripadvisor survey travellers gave Paris poor marks for its cleanliness and there are reports that groups of Japanese expats are so fed up they've even started cleaning parks in the capital.

But authorities in the capital appear finally ready to take serious action.

The city's cleaning Tsar Mao Peninou insists that Paris is not a "dirty city, but a city that is dirtied", but has vowed to get tough.

"All these little things we call incivilities, we want to fight more strongly. That is why we asked the State to be able to put in place more effective fines," he told Le Parisien. 

After a series of unsuccessful prevention campaigns, Peninou's team are going to hit Parisians where it hurts the most: their wallets.

From October 1st, those caught littering will face a hefty fine of €68, almost double the previous penalty of €35.

Tossing cigarette butts in Paris to prompt €68 fines

This includes dropping rubbish like cigarette butts – or mégots as they are known in France – and chewing gum on the city’s streets.

“We are in the process of pooling all the services where agents are authorized to hand out fines: Green Spaces, Street Cleaning and Security Management,” said Peninou.

“The creation of this anti-incivility brigade will allow us to have greater clout,” he added.

During the last week officials have trawled the streets to issue fake fines as a final warning to those who litter. 

The move follows a series of poster campaigns encouraging Parisians to respect their city, with tag lines like “We can do the maximum, but not the impossible” and “Cleaners clean up behind you. Let’s avoid littering after them.”

Last year over 25,000 fines were handed out by around 100 inspectors, but the hope is that the doubling of the penalty will act as a deterrent. 

Meanwhile, the Town Hall has rolled out 30,000 new ashtray bins to encourage smokers to dispose of their cigarettes properly and around 5,600 assigned jobs of collecting waste and cleaning the city streets.

The problem of littering is nowhere more acute than in the trendy Canal St Martin district, where residents have grown exasperated by revellers who leave the contents of their picnics along the picturesque canal. 

Locals were pressed into launching a social media campaign to highlight the problem. 

READ MORE: Paris's bohemian canal - now more tip than hip




Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also