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POLITICS

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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POLITICS

French left under pressure over violence against women

Two key parties in France's left-wing alliance were Wednesday facing crises after senior figures were accused of violence against women, with a Greens party chief stepping back from his role days after a colleague from hard-left France Unbowed.

French left under pressure over violence against women

Julien Bayou was “suspended from his role” as co-president of the Greens’ bloc in the National Assembly (lower house), the party said late Tuesday, after he was accused of psychologically abusing an ex-partner.

“We are a feminist party, and so we place ourselves at the service of women’s testimony… we acknowledged that the only way to show we weren’t pretending and weren’t hiding was a temporary suspension,” Sandra Regol, vice-president of the Green MPs’ group, told broadcaster Franceinfo on Wednesday.

One of the most prominent MPs of France Unbowed (LFI) — allied with the Greens in a broad left alliance against President Emmanuel Macron — Adrien Quatennens on Sunday admitted to slapping his wife.

He stepped down from a senior role as party coordinator.

Party leader and three-time presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon leapt to Quatennens’ defence on Twitter, blasting “police ill-will, media voyeurism and the social networks” while hailing his protege’s “dignity” and “courage”.

It was not until hours later that Melenchon posted another message gesturing towards Quatennens’ wife — too late for many critics.

Macron’s Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Tuesday that it was “extremely shocking to have someone playing down domestic violence”.

And some 550 feminist activists on Wednesday co-signed an editorial in left-wing daily Liberation calling for Quatennens to resign his seat in parliament.

“When a political group supports a feminist programme, we have a right to expect that it stops protecting assaulters,” they wrote, listing a string of other left-wing figures who have been accused of assault and even rape.

“It’s not up to the assaulter’s friends to judge how serious the crime is and call for their private life to be respected. Private life is political.”

Both the Greens and LFI have set up internal panels to investigate allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

A report about Bayou was submitted to the ecologists’ panel in July, prompting allegations the probe had moved too slowly.”

These are volunteers working on cases that are sensitive by definition.

Calm and time are needed to gather testimony and take the necessary decisions,” said Marine Tondelier, expected to stand soon for leadership of the Greens.

Allegations that sexual harassment and even assault are rife in French politics stretch well beyond the left.

In July Damien Abad, a minister in centrist Macron’s freshly installed government, was forced to step down over rape allegations.

He denies the claims and has since returned to his seat in parliament.

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