Mayor Anne Hidalgo wants to turn Paris into a "15-minute-city," transforming each arrondissement into a self-sufficient community where people can find everything they need on their doorstep.
The "ville du quart d’heure” (15-minute-city) is a key proposal of the socialist mayor's re-election campaign for 2020. Through it, Hidalgo aims to phase out vehicles and reduce emissions by creating self-sufficient communities within each neighbourhood. This means essentials like grocery shops, schools, health centres, cafes, bakeries and parks will just be a short stroll or bike-ride away from people's homes. Hidalgo also wants to create bike lines in every street in the French capital, and introduce protected cycleways on the city's bridges.
Plans like these may seem ambitious but Paris is already making strides to become more self-sufficient and reduce its emissions in creative ways. Since Hidalgo took office in 2015, she has been focused on making the City of Light greener by gradually limiting the city’s exposure to the most polluting vehicles, reducing parking spaces in the streets, creating new bikes zones, organising re-planting programmes and encouraging entire neighbourhoods to go car-free on Sundays.
There are many ways in which Paris is evolving while retaining its je ne sais quois, of course. The sidewalk cafes, bistros, boutiques and galleries are all there but if you're planning a visit within the next few years, here are some exciting new changes to look out for:
Porte de Versailles in the 15th arrondissement, a sprawling cultural complex just 15 minutes from the Eiffel Tower, is the site of a new urban rooftop farm, reported to be the world's largest. By April 2020, the rooftop of the six-storey building will be transformed into a green paradise of produce to feed the city's southern neighbourhoods, and locals can rent out their own little plots too.
Eiffel Tower Gardens
Last year, Paris City Hall unveiled a plan to make one of the main access routes to the Eiffel Tower, Pont d'Iena on the Seine, car-free –with only public transport and emergency vehicles allowed. A walk and cycle route will be created, and other elements will include a pedestrianised garden (the largest in the city), two new public squares and restored parkland.
Swimming in the Seine
Another ambition of Hidalgo's is to clean up the Seine ahead of the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics and turn it into an urban beach. In 2017, parts of the Bassin de la Villette canal already turned into a swimming area in 2017 and by 2018 it had welcomed 10,000 swimmers. By 2025, the overall goal is to create 23 swimming sites along the Seine, five of which would be in Paris, including one in the 4th arrondissement near the city centre and Notre Dame cathedral.
Art in the outskirts
Creatives have come together to bring art to the outer limits of Paris. Last year, non-profit Fondation Fiminco launched Komunuma, an art complex near the Canal de l’Ourcq in Romainville, a suburb about 3km north of Paris. Five galleries from the centre of Paris have already set up shop here, such as Jocelyn Wolff, Imane Farès, Galerie Sator, Air de Paris, and In Situ Fabienne Leclerc. As part of its goal to become a creative destination, Komunuma will host live performances, events and workshops and will hopefully encourage more tourists to explore a new side to Paris.