The brand new cleaner, greener Paris

Pause, shut your eyes. Now assume again to your final time in Paris. What’s the very first thing you bear in mind? Is it the fragrance of the lilacs close to Notre-Dame on a spring morning? Smoke rising from roasting chestnuts on a crisp winter day? The sight of a stately limestone townhouse, trimmed with lace-like wrought-iron balconies, glowing within the afternoon solar? Or maybe a pink-tinged twilight by the bateaux-filled Seine?

Everybody entertains their very own indelible Paris recollections. It’s a metropolis, in spite of everything, that imprints itself in your senses. However that is solely a part of its attract that pulls you again.

One of many causes so many people return to Paris is the truth that it invariably delivers. Paris is a metropolis that resists change, which is why it hardly ever, if ever, disappoints. Proper?

Effectively, after I visited Paris simply earlier than Christmas final 12 months, I used to be struck by the truth that Paris is just not fairly the Paris I recalled from the final time we have been capable of go to.

I am not speaking in regards to the ongoing repairs to Notre-Dame, trying considerably forlorn behind a barricade of steel fencing, scaffolding and razor wire.

Nor am I speaking in regards to the daring plans for the 2024 Olympics, together with a revolutionary opening ceremony that can unfurl alongside the Seine which is about to remodel the character of the Video games’ most glittering non-sporting occasions (and provides Brisbane some French meals for thought forward of 2032).

No, what actually struck me have been the sweeping measures being rolled out by town’s polarising mayor, Anne Hidalgo, in her quest to show Paris right into a greener, extra sustainable metropolis, within the lead-up to the Video games and past.

Hidalgo, who has been mayor since 2014 and who will problem Emmanuel Macron for the presidency on this 12 months’s elections, goals to make the centre of Paris utterly car-free, and has already began rolling out what is going to in the end be 180 kilometres of bicycle lanes throughout town.

Central streets together with the Rue St Antoine and Rue de Rivoli are already devoted nearly solely to bikes and pedestrians, a transfer that has actually modified the ambiance within the metropolis.

“It is so quiet now, and the air is cleaner,” says artist Laura Courtney, an Australian artist who lives in Paris. “You do not realise how nerve-racking site visitors could make town.”

Bikes might not but rival baguettes as a quintessential Parisian accent however Courtney says locals have embraced biking with typical Parisian aptitude.

“You see so many individuals on bicycles – there was a 300 per cent enhance in bike gross sales in Paris since 2019,” she says. “You see even outdated women dressed to the nines, biking together with their shiba inu canines of their baskets.”

In addition to the continued rollout of cycleways, there may be the billion-euro clean-up of the Seine. By 2025, there shall be no fewer than 5 locations to take a dip within the river.

A few of the metropolis’s main monuments are being reimagined too. The realm across the Eiffel Tower is being transformed into an city park, whereas the jutting Montparnasse Tower – town’s most well-known eyesore – shall be adorned with tons of of sq. metres of vegetation and gardens.

There are different disused areas being reinvented, together with an deserted stretch of metro reconfigured as a eating vacation spot filled with cafes, eating places and bars.

The largest change, nevertheless, is the deliberate greening of Paris. Hidalgo desires to see half of Paris lined by planted areas by 2030. City forests will seem subsequent to the Palais Garnier and the Gare de Lyon station, and main planting is deliberate for the Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Elysees, which may also see site visitors capability halved in an effort to prioritise pedestrians.

“Parisians are actually excited in regards to the new inexperienced areas the comity has budgeted for,” says Riccardo Ortogni of the J.Ok. Place Paris resort, including that Parisians spend numerous their time transferring by way of their metropolis. “In Paris, there isn’t any higher place than being outdoor to soak all of it in.”

One different factor Parisians are enthusiastic about is the return of vacationers. Sure, on this as soon as infamously over touristed metropolis, absence actually has made the guts develop fonder. “We even miss the Individuals,” laughs Courtney, “so now could be the time to go to.”

That is one thing with which Sarah Pank, the Australian founding father of rental firm Flats Truly, agrees. “Everyone seems to be so excited to place the final two years behind us and transfer on.

“You by no means know the way a lot one thing means to you till it’s taken away and I really feel like Paris is the factor lacking in folks’s lives. They’ve sat at residence dreaming of one other world and for a lot of, that world is Paris.”

If you need some inspiration to your subsequent Paris journey, and we hope it isn’t too lengthy from now, seize a croissant to nibble on and peruse our information to each the outdated and new unmissable favourites of a Metropolis of Mild lastly flickering to life once more.


La Bourse du Commerce – Pinault Collection.
CREDIT: Marc Domage
Supplied PR image.
SatFeb19Cover - Paris story by Ute Junker

La Bourse du Commerce.


Lengthy-overshadowed by the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay, the fantastic Musee Carnavalet has reopened after a four-year renovation by acclaimed architects Snohetta. This fascinating museum traces the historical past of town; particularly compelling are the French Revolution and the fashions that present how town developed over time. See


Take one neoclassical inventory change. Add a famous person architect within the type of Tadao Ando and usher in a world-class modern artwork assortment assembled by luxurious items magnate Francois Pinault and you’ve got Paris’ most compelling new museum, La Bourse du Commerce – Pinault Assortment. See



Wood chairs, blackboard menu, low lighting, and an ideal plate of steak-frites: Bistro Paul Bert within the eleventh arrondissement delivers every thing you need from a conventional bistro. Their old-school strategy extends to the shortage of an internet site, with reservations solely obtainable by cellphone. For those who do not converse French, ask your resort to guide you a desk. No web site


Chef Matthias Marc has made a splash together with his portfolio of trendy eating places and Liquide, his newest opening within the 1st arrondissement, is not any exception. Marc showcases the components of his native Jura area in delicate dishes corresponding to trout tartare garnished with raspberries, grated horseradish and beetroot coulis, or roast pigeon filled with smoked morteau, a conventional sausage from the Jura. See


Madame Reve Paris hotel AFR Life & Leisure February 2022
Paris Hotels story by Ute Junker

Resort Madame Reve. Photograph: Jerome Galland


L’Resort incorporates some critical historical past inside its partitions. That is the place Oscar Wilde famously breathed his final – however not each visitor comes right here on a literary pilgrimage. The handy Saint-Germain-des-Prés location and the luxurious Jacques Garcia interiors are simply as a lot of a draw. See


There is a mushy golden glow to the interiors within the new Madame Reve resort that offers you a way of being in a spot the place life will move extra softly, and the employees guarantee that’s the case. With a basement spa, a rooftop bar and one of the spectacular cafes in Paris, this trendy resort is designed for cocooning. See


Paris, France - August 16, 2015: Marais street scene with older couple walking along Rue Hospitalières St. Gervais in front of Chez Marianne, a popular restaurant in the historic district of Marais. SatFeb19Cover - Paris story by Ute Junker
Photo: iStock

The historic district of Marais. Photograph: iStock


With its mix of grand townhouses, slender lanes and a village ambiance, Le Marais has lengthy been one of many metropolis’s most-loved districts. You possibly can spend days looking its cool boutiques, stopping in at its hip bars and discovering sights together with the Picasso Museum and the oldest lined market in Paris. See


The gritty multicultural district of Belleville in Paris’ east gives the prospect to discover a unique facet of Paris, the place Turkish boreks and Tunisian briks change the baguette as a go-to snack. Head to Place Frehel and rue Denoyez for very good road artwork, take a break within the pretty Parc de Belleville, or dine in one of many space’s buzzy eating places corresponding to Mensae or Le Grand Bain. See



Paris has loads of rooftop bars however if you would like views of the Eiffel Tower served up alongside your aperitif, Le Georges delivers the products. This rooftop bar – a part of the brasserie atop the Centre Pompidou – is at its liveliest after the dinner crowd departs. Get in whilst you can: the Centre Pompidou is because of shut for a three-year renovation from the tip of 2023. See


Paris’ romantic zinc mansard roofs are probably the most distinctive ingredient of its skyline, they usually completely body the view from Sequoia, the rooftop bar atop the brand new Kimpton St Honore Paris. Sit amid the plush greenery dealing with the ornate roof of the Opera and you might be set for a memorable night time. See


Stained glass, colourful ceiling at Lafayette shopping mall in Paris, France. The dome was designed by Jacques Gruber. Taken in March 2016. SatFeb19Cover - Paris story by Ute Junker
Photo: iStock

The colorful ceiling at Lafayette shopping center. Photograph: iStock


Some 25 million folks a 12 months go to the Galeries Lafayette flagship retailer within the 2nd arrondissement, and never all of them are right here to buy. The division retailer is understood for its attractive interiors, notably the 43-metre excessive dome in the primary corridor, a sight that stops first-time guests in its tracks. See


It took 16 years, however for a lot of Parisians, the renovation of La Samaritaine has been well worth the wait. The newly-reopened riverside division retailer dealing with the Pont Neuf has not solely had its heritage-listed artwork nouveau and artwork deco design restored, it additionally has a placing new constructing designed by SANAA architects. See



Considered one of Paris’ most-loved buildings, Notre-Dame de Paris is presently hidden away behind excessive fences. Reconstruction of the Gothic landmark, broken in a 2019 blaze, is on monitor to be full earlier than the Olympics, though plans to modernise the interiors – together with modern paintings and maybe Bible quotes projected onto the wall – have aroused a powerful response. See


Is it a church or a manufacturing unit? At Notre-Dame-du-Travail (Church of Our Girl of Labour) within the 14th arrondissement close to the Montparnasse Tower, you possibly can be forgiven for getting confused, due to the metal scaffolding and girders that kind a part of the design. Constructed in the beginning of the twentieth century to cater for the realm’s manufacturing unit staff, this uncommon church additionally depicts saints as staff, with Saint Eloi as a goldsmith and Saint Fiacre as a gardener.


The Hood, Paris
SatFeb19Cover - Paris story by Ute Junker
Supplied PR image

The Hood within the third arrondissement.


Do not hassle attempting to get a seat at Les Deux Magots at lunchtime – that is when vacationers throng to this Left Financial institution favorite. As a substitute, head right here later within the afternoon if you wish to comply with within the footsteps of de Beauvoir, Sartre, Hemingway and Picasso and benefit from the atmosphere at maybe the one cafe on the planet with its personal literary prize. See


Helmed by a French-Vietnamese chef and serving locally-roasted espresso and biodynamic wines, The Hood within the third arrondissement epitomises the Brooklyn-style cafe that younger Parisians love. Its devoted clientele helped fund renovations by way of a Kickstarter marketing campaign, guaranteeing they might proceed having fun with The Hood’s banh mi and chai lattes. See


Boulogne-Billancourt, France - October 16, 2021: General view of La Seine Musicale, a music and performing arts venue located on the Seguin island on the Seine river, inaugurated in 2017. SatFeb19Cover - Paris story by Ute Junker
Photo: iStock

La Seine Musicale, a music and performing arts venue positioned on the Seguin island on the Seine river. Photograph: iStock


For those who assume the Palais Garnier opera home is spectacular from the skin, simply wait till you step inside. That includes each flourish typical of the grand period of Napoleon III, its opulent interiors dazzle with reams of gilding and marble, in addition to an impressive grand staircase and a ceiling fresco by Marc Chagall. It is a magnificent setting for an evening out. You possibly can catch ballet or live performance performances in addition to opera, and guided and self-guided excursions are additionally obtainable. See


Head to the west of town to see La Seine Musicale, the eye-catching music venue set on an island within the Seine. It is well worth the journey. Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the a lot talked-about constructing hosts each classical and modern music performances. Its sustainable options embody a photovoltaic sail that rotates to comply with the route of the solar. See


Wine store and bookstore La Belle Hortense. Photograph: iStock


The tomes on the cabinets aren’t the one draw at Shakespeare and Firm. A part of the enjoyment of wandering by way of the cabinets at this Left Financial institution bookstore is realizing that the likes of James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway have been right here earlier than you. This legendary bookstore nonetheless runs its well-known Tumbleweeds program, permitting guests to sleep among the many cabinets. See


Like to loosen up over a great guide with a glass of wine? At La Belle Hortense, a mix bookshop and wine bar within the Marais, that is par for the course. You possibly can even order a chew to eat, delivered from one of many neighbouring eating places. That incontrovertible fact that it is open late into the night time makes it the right place to select up some bedtime studying. No web site.


HEYWEC les deux magots, paris, ile de france, farnce SatFeb19Cover - Paris story by Ute Junker
Photo: Alamy

Paris perennial Les Deux Magots. Photograph: Alamy


The Metro will get you there faster however we like to stroll each time we will. Within the morning, when the sunshine is mushy; within the afternoon for folks watching; within the night for love – a stroll in Paris is at all times a good suggestion.


Probably the most memorable eating experiences aren’t essentially within the metropolis’s many Michelin-starred eating places. The great worth two-course lunches provided as a matter in fact by eating places in any respect value factors are sometimes spectacular.


The Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, the Centre Pompidou, museums devoted to Picasso and Rodin: Paris is a haven for artwork lovers. And in lots of instances, the museums are as gorgeous as their contents.


First-timers head to the steps of Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre. Previous arms favour one of many lengthy, low bridges spanning the Seine. Wherever you end up at sundown in Paris watching the night time fall throughout town is an irresistible Paris second.


It is one of the best discount in Paris; a cup of (typically so-so) espresso offers you the proper to settle in for some critical people-watching. Greater than anyplace else on the planet, Parisian cafes are blissful so that you can linger with the people-watching unrivalled.

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