Paris vows to clean up ‘trashed city’ after wave of criticism

Paris officials laid out eight measures on Monday aimed at sprucing up one of the world's most visited cities following a social media campaign lambasting trash and other eyesores.

Paris vows to clean up 'trashed city' after wave of criticism
A social media campaign has been portraying Paris as a dirty city. Photo: Ludovic Marin / AFP.

For months residents have been posting pictures of dirty or dilapidated urban furniture, abandoned scooters or ramshackle terraces set up by cafes during the pandemic with the hashtag #saccageparis (Trashed Paris), to the dismay of City Hall.

It has put Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who is weighing a bid for the presidency, on the defensive.

“We’re not doing this in response to saccageparis,” deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said at a press conference. “But when we are called out by our citizens… they deserve to be listened to and respected. The things being said by the Saccage Paris groups are not wrong.”

The push for a “new aesthetic,” he said, would include repainting historic elements of public space including the ornate iron and wood “Davioud” benches from the Second Empire.

The city will also remove or renovate recent “Mikado” benches – which often resemble haphazard piles of railroad ties – that many Parisians love to hate.

Some 2,000 “useless” advertising panels will come down, Gregoire said. And he vowed “more discrete and harmonious” painting and barriers for the 60 kilometres (37 miles) of “coronapistes” bike lanes that were quickly carved out during the pandemic.

Most of the lanes currently are marked with plastic yellow poles or hulking concrete construction blocks that have not aged well.

Hidalgo’s rightwing critics and some residents accuse her of allowing the capital to fall into neglect while making trips to other French cities to woo allies for her rumoured presidential run next year.

She has claimed the city is being targeted by a smear campaign, and has promised to double spending on cleaning during her second term as mayor to €1 billion.

Member comments

  1. Considering the huge number of tourists I do not think Paris is all that bad. Even Tokyo, which is an especially clean city, has its areas that look worse than Paris, much worse. And compared to Rome, Paris is spotless and in much better repair. You have really made an effort though. Trash cans are all over the place, they are changed multiple times a day, I know I have watched from my apartment window. But there are some cultures that just are not yet on board with stopping littering. In America it took a very long time to stop peopole from littering in the highways. But it has made a huge difference. But it took maybe 15 years. Even the Metro is actually really good. It is cleaner than both New York City and Washington DC.

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Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

The final composition of the new French government was announced on Friday. A new investigation suggests that historic rape allegations against a newly appointed minister were ignored.

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

It didn’t take long for scandal to hit the France’s new government.

An investigation by Mediapart published the day after the final list of ministerial positions was announced revealed that two women have accused one of the appointees of rape. 

READ MORE Who’s who in France’s new government?

Damien Abad, the new Solidarity Minister denies the allegations and a police investigation into one allegation was dropped in 2017. But another could be about to open. 

Who is Damien Abad? 

Damien Abad is a 42-year-old son of a miner from Nimes in southern France who became the first handicapped MP to be elected in 2012. He has arthrogryposis, a rare condition that affects the joints.

Prior to his appointment as the Minister for Solidarity, Autonomy and Disabled People, he was the leader of the France’s right-wing Republicans party in the Assemblée nationale

What are the allegations? 

Two alleged victims, who didn’t know each other, told Mediapart that Abad raped them on separate occasions in 2010 and 2011.

The first woman described meeting Abad for dinner after having met him weeks earlier at a wedding. She said she blacked out after one glass of champagne and woke up in her underwear in a hotel bed with Abad the next morning fearing she had been drugged. 

A second woman who lodged a formal charge against Abad in 2017 said that he harassed her by text message for years. She eventually agreed to meet with him one evening. After initially consenting, she told him to stop – but her plea fell on deaf ears as Abad raped her. 

What does Abad have to say? 

The new minister denies the accusations.

“It is physically impossible for me to commit the acts described,” he told Mediapart – in reference to his disability. 

He admitted to sending “sometimes intimate” messages, but said he had “obviously never drugged anyone”. 

“I was able to have adventures, I stand by my claim that they were always consensual.”

Is he under investigation? 

The second alleged victim made a formal allegation against Abad in 2017. 

A subsequent investigation was dropped later that year after a “lack of sufficient evidence was gathered”.

Mediapart report that Abad’s entourage were not questioned by police and that the MP told investigators that he had no memory of the alleged crime. 

The first alleged victim flagged the abuse to the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics – an unofficial watchdog monitoring elected bodies – earlier this month. 

The Observatory has since brought the case to the state prosecutor, but it is unclear if another investigation will be launched.  

Who knew? 

The tone deaf appointment of Gérald Darmanin as Interior Minister in 2020 was controversial because at the time he was under investigation for rape. His nomination was met with street protests in Paris and elsewhere. Feminists accused (and continue to accuse) Emmanuel Macron of not taking sexual violence seriously. 

The investigation into Darmanin’s alleged crime has since been dropped.

Some will question whether the naming of Abad shows that lessons have not been learned. 

“Once again a minister  in the government of Emmanuel Macron accused of rape,” said Caroline De Haas, the founder of the #NousToutes feminist movement. 

The Observatory sent a message warning senior party figures in the Republicans and LREM about the allegations on Monday – prior to Abad’s nomination. 

France’s new Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne denied having any knowledge of the warning. 

“I am going to be very clear on all these questions of harassment and sexual violence, there will be no impunity,” she said during a visit to Calvados. 

“If there are new elements, if the courts are summoned, we will accept the consequences.” 

READ MORE Who is Élisabeth Borne, France’s new PM?

The Observatory meanwhile claims it has been ignored. 

“Despite our alerts, Damien Abad who is accused of rape has been named in government. Thoughts and support to the victims,” it tweeted