VIDEO: Work begins on final stage to make Paris’ Place de la Bastille pedestrian friendly

The final stages of work began on Wednesday to transform one of Paris' most famous places the Place de la Bastille from a giant roundabout into a green pedestrian space.

VIDEO: Work begins on final stage to make Paris' Place de la Bastille pedestrian friendly
Place de la Bastille will connect with the Canal Saint-Martin. Photo: Jean Baptiste Gurliat/Ville de Paris

Place de la Bastille is one of several Paris squares to be getting a pedestrian-friendly makeover as part of the plans of Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo to make the city greener

On Wednesday the final phase of the works began – removing five huge steel beams of 30 tonnes each, dating from 1890, from the end of the square to reconnect it to the Canal Saint-Martin.


As well as opening up the square to the canal basin – which has been partially covered over since Metro Line 1 was built in 1900 – the works will also significantly reduce space for traffic and create a giant pedestrian plaza, as well as an interchange for cyclists to connect several different cycle paths.

Jean-Louis Missika, the Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of urban planning, told Le Monde: “The renovation of the Bastille, like that of the Place de la Nation, symbolises our global approach: make room for pedestrians and bicycles and not only for cars, integrate plants and be a place of life and not just a place of passage, be inclusive thanks to a breadcrumb trail on the ground throughout the square for the visually impaired.”
Photo: Jean Baptiste Gurliat/Ville de Paris
As well as Place de la Bastille – a significant site in French history as the Bastille prison which was stormed at the beginning of the French Revolution was located to the west of the current square –  Place de la Nation, Place du Pantheon, Place d'Italie, Place de la Madeleine, Place Gambetta and Place des Fetes are also getting pedestrian-friendly makeovers in the €50 million project.
In total, pedestrians and cyclists will gain 50 percent more space on the squares in a move to significantly decrease traffic.
Since the beginning of her term in office, Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo has prioritised making Paris into a more pedestrian friendly city, with a huge number of roadworks to improve walking and cycling spaces, as well as restrictions on such as banner older diesel vehicles from the centre of Paris during the week.


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Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed

Striking airport workers have blocked part Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, with some flights already delayed by at least one hour.

Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed
Striking airport workers outside Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt | AFP

Last month, trade unions representing workers at the Aéroports de Paris (ADP) – the city’s Charles-de-Gaulle-Roissy and Orly airports – called for a strike between July 1st and July 5th in an ongoing dispute between French airport workers and bosses over contract renegotiations.

A second wave of protests are expected next week, after a strike notice was filed for July 9th.

Tensions mounted on Friday morning as some 400 protesters staged a raucous demonstration at CDG’s terminal 2E, which mostly deals with flights outside the Schengen zone, as police officers looked on.

At Orly airport, meanwhile, some 250 people demonstrated “outside”, while a small group was inside.

The dispute is over a long-term plan by ADP to bring in new work contracts for employees at the airports, which unions say will lower pay, job losses and a reduction in rights and bonuses for employees.

The strike is being jointly called by the CGT, CFE-CGE, Unsa, CFDT and FO unions, who said in a joint press release that the proposals will “definitively remove more than a month’s salary from all employees and force them to accept geographical mobility that will generate additional commuting time”.

Unions say that staff face dismissal if they do not sign the new contracts.

ADP said on Wednesday that it expected ‘slight delays for some flights but no cancellations’ to services – but it urged travellers to follow its social media operations for real-time updates.

On Thursday, the first day of action, 30 percent of flights were delayed between 15 minutes and half-an-hour.

ADP’s CEO Augustin de Romanet had said on Tuesday that ‘everything would be done to ensure no flight is cancelled’. 

ADP reported a loss of €1.17 billion in 2020. 

Stressing that discussions are continuing over the proposed new contracts, the CEO called for “an effort of solidarity, with a red line: no forced layoffs.”