Lonely Planet Writer

Is the centre of Paris about to become a car free zone?

After trialling a number of schemes to reduce the amount of traffic on the roads, the mayor of Paris has now unveiled plans to pedestrianise the city centre in the hope that private car ownership can be halved in the French capital.

Traffic on the Champs Elysee, Paris.
Traffic on the Champs Elysees, Paris. Image by PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

High levels of pollution have already led Mayor Anne Hidalgo to ban cars on the Champs-Élysées for a day each month. Then, in an attempt to reduce smog clouds and reclaim the space for pedestrians, City Hall has also prevented cars from traversing a three km stretch of road alongside the right bank of the Seine this summer. If Hidalgo’s latest plans see fruition, increased cycle lanes and a new electric tram are on the cards, including the “Olympic tramway”, which will run in both directions alongside the river.

Motorised traffic will also be banned from roads like the river-hugging route between Pont Royal and Place de la Concorde. Other routes set for closure will include the Right Bank’s upper road and Rue de Rivoli. Back in December, pollution was so bad that public transport was made free across the city and half of the cars in Paris were banned from entering the capital.

Speaking at the time, Hidalgo said: “the idea is to go step by step towards the pedestrianisation of the city centre. It will remain open to vehicles belonging to local residents, the police, emergency services and for deliveries, but not to all comers. We say clearly that our aim is the significant reduction in car traffic, as all the world’s large cities are doing. We must constantly remind people: the fewer cars there are, the less pollution there is.”