Why not everyone is happy about Paris getting a new map

The controversial plan by the mayor of Paris to alter the historic boundaries of the city’s districts, named arrondissements, moved a step closer this week. But some are resisting the change.

Why not everyone is happy about Paris getting a new map

MP’s in the French parliament voted through a bill that would change the official status of Paris, meaning the City Hall would gain extra powers over police and environmental matters.

But the most controversial aspect of the bill is mayor Anne Hidalgo’s plan to change the historic city map by merging four arrondissements.

The plan, which she wants to come to fruition by 2020, would see the first, second, third and fourth arrondissements become one. 

The move is intended to allow “better democratic representation” for Parisians, the mayor's team have argued.

The new administrative map would allow “the unification of political representation and the administrative organization of the least populated arrondissements”, the Town Hall argues, adding that just one mayor would be responsible for the merged areas.

Hidalgo has stressed that the change wouldn't affect the postcodes of the first four arrondissements, or indeed the other 16 in Paris. 

While MPs in the lower National Assembly have given the project their backing, the Senate, which has a right wing majority, has objected to the plan. A joint committee failed to agree a compromise meaning the bill will go back before parliament next year, although Hidalgo's plan is expected to pass.

But for those on the right, Hidalgo’s change is simply a thinly disguised tactic to reinforce the left’s control over the City Hall.

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, a Paris councillor, who lost out to Hidalgo in the 2014 mayoral race, said the fusion of the four arrondissements will allow Anne Hidalgo to have a majority on the city council.

Out of the four arrondissements in question, three are run by a left wing mayors while one, the first arrondissement, has a right wing mayor.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about the arrondissements of Paris

Paris is divided up in to 20 districts in the form of a clockwise spiral, which is often likened to a snail’s shell.

The first arrondissement is in the middle of the city on the right bank of the Seine, and includes the famous Louvre art gallery and Place Vendôme. The arrondissements curl round until the 20th on the eastern edge of the city.

Each arrondissement is like a town in itself, with its own Town Hall and police headquarters. 

The administrative divisions have laid untouched since 1954.

Hidalgo's move – which was first brought up in September last year- would reduce the discrepancies between the services available to the public in each arrondissement.

For example, the chances of parents finding a place in nursery for their child can vary significantly depending on which arrondissement they live in.

According to one guide, there are just four municipal nurseries in the third arrondissement but there are 40 in the 13th, although it should be said demand for a place in the third is far lower because its smaller population means fewer families live there.

A look at the map reveals the size of the arrondissements varies widely with the smallest one, the second, being just 1 square kilometre compared to the largest, the 16th, which is nearly 8 square kilometres in size.

While the first arrondissement is home to just 17,000 residents, the 15th can count 240,000.





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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”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro