1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Paris bans cars along part of Seine

September 26, 2016

The Paris Council has approved a plan to ban cars on a long stretch of highway along the River Seine. The proposal has divided opinion in the city.

Frankreich Paris Seine-Ufer autofrei
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/H. Heuse

The plan approved by the Paris City Council on Monday is another part of the battle of Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo against high pollution in the French capital.

It will see 3.3 kilometers (2 miles) of an expressway on the Right Bank from the Tuileries Garden toward the Bastille neighborhood closed to cars. The project, which is estimated to cost 8 million euros ($9 million), envisages the construction of wooden walkways, but also of a lane for emergency vehicles. The section to be pedestrianized has been car-free for a month every summer since 2002 for the highly successful "Paris Plages" projects, which sees parts of the banks of the Seine converted into artificial beaches.

Frankreich Paris-Plages 2015
"Paris-Plages" has been highly popular with residents and tourists alikeImage: picture alliance/AA/M. Yalcin

'Right side of history'

Hidalgo described Monday's vote as a "historic decision, the end of an urban motorway and the taking back of the Seine."

Socialist Environment Minister Segolene Royal also hailed the initiative, saying the move to banish cars from the Right Bank put Paris "on the right side of history."

A recent survey found that 55 percent of Parisians backed the plan.

It has, however, been criticized by the conservative opposition, which says it will worsen city traffic and hurt working-class commuters in particular. Opponents of the plan also say there was not enough consultation or testing of the plan prior to its adoption.

Paris police chief Michel Cadot said on Monday that a committee would monitor the impact of closing the road, which was previously used by some 43,000 cars per day.

Eiffel Tower in smog
Air pollution is a growing problem in the cityImage: PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images

Breathing easier

During her time in office, Hidalgo has initiated an anti-pollution program called "Paris Respire" (Paris Breathes) that has included banning cars from the famous Champs-Elysees avenue on the first Sunday of every month. Another nine new routes are reserved for pedestrians and bicycles every Sunday and public holiday.

Air quality in Paris regularly violates EU norms, with experts blaming pollution for 2,500 deaths each year in the city, and 6,600 in the greater metropolitan area.

The banks of the Seine have been classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.

tj/kms (AFP, AP)