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More cafes and fewer sex shops: How Paris streets are changing

Have you noticed the streets of Paris are changing? While book shops and sex shops are disappearing rapidly they are being replaced by cafés and mini supermarkets, a new study reveals.

More cafes and fewer sex shops: How Paris streets are changing
Photo: Angelo DeSantis/WikiCommons

There are 62,507 retailers in Paris (see second map below), according to a study from urban planning company Apur that was published on Tuesday.

And while there are only around 25 more shops than there were in 2014, the types of outlets have changed at a rapid pace, the study noted. 

(A closer look at all the shops and eateries around République in central Paris.)

Disappearing are the bookshops, sex shops, news agencies, and car-repair garages. In their place, mini-supermarkets, sports halls, organic shops, and nail salons.

In fact, the study noted “profound changes” in the three years between 2014 and 2017, outlining an “exceptional density” in the Paris shopping scene. (All shops marked below).

(There's a lot of red on the map. Red stands for food outlets, including supermarkets.)

So dense, in fact, that there are 28 retail businesses in Paris for every 1,000 residents.

This figure differs wildly depending on where you are in Paris, with 139 shops per thousand in the 1st arrondissement and just 12 per thousand in the 19th arrondissement. 

The study, which was carried out at the request of the City Hall and the Paris Chamber of Commerce, noted that a pedestrianised city like Paris favoured a healthy population of small shops.

So what are all these new shops in Paris?

There was a 9 percent increase in nail and beauty salons, the study noted, a 9 percent rise in supermarkets, and a 6 percent increase in mini-supermarkets. 

There were 652 new cafes and restaurants, a 5 percent growth, taking the total number to 14,530 (see cafe and restaurant map below).

Another huge growth was with bicycle shops, that is, those selling, repairing or renting bikes. Since 2014 Paris has seen 46 new bike shops open their doors, a 57 percent increase.

(The yellow on this map stands for cafes and restaurants.)

What’s disappearing?

The study found that since 2014 there has been an 11 percent drop in car repair garages, a 6-percent drop in bookstores, and a 28 percent plummet for newsagents.

The study pointed to the internet as one of the main reasons that newsagents and even book stores were closing down. It also suggested that the internet had muscled many sex shops out of business, with the red-light businesses suffering a 13 percent droop.

To see a lot more from Apur’s study, including interactive maps, click here (in French).

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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