Paris unveils “manifesto of beauty” to recapture lost charm

Paris city authorities presented a “manifesto for beauty” on Tuesday that contains plans to spruce up the City of Light where an online campaign highlighting ugliness and dirt has put pressure on Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said several new initiatives from the socialist-green alliance that runs the capital would be scrapped, including allowing Parisians to plant their own gardens in public places.

According to a 2015 schedule, locals were asked to apply for licenses to plant flowers around their feet on the trees on the street – at the expense of the traditional cast iron covers that are a much-loved part of the Parisian landscape.

Many amateur gardens have since been turned into littered eye ulcers covered by dog ​​feces, and Gregoire admitted that they were “not aesthetically pleasing” and posed “major maintenance problems”.

A zero-tolerance strategy for dumping rubbish in public will be adopted, Gregoire promised, while efforts to combat tagging and illegal posters will be intensified.

Unsightly temporary yellow road markings for new cycle paths will also be removed, in line with an earlier commitment, while newer concrete barriers will be replaced with “more discreet” versions.

#saccagepari’s social media hashtag (meaning “throw Paris”) went viral in the first half of 2021, with residents posting pictures of piled up rubbish, rotting benches, abandoned scooters or poorly maintained planted areas on the street.

Much of the anger was directed at City Hall for replacing or neglecting Paris’ unique architectural heritage, including its street furniture that was bequeathed from the mid-19th century under Napoleon III.

Although the mayor’s office first condemned the hashtag as a “smear campaign”, city officials have been urged to take action.

Gregoire has already put forward eight measures aimed at improving the city’s appearance in July last year.

He admitted on Tuesday that the campaign “had also been useful in the sense that it forced us to question ourselves and react”, although he said that sometimes the same images were reproduced, which exaggerated the scale of the problems.

Hidalgo is running as a presidential candidate for the Socialist Party but is fighting to influence voters.

She is currently voting around three percent. The presidential election will be held in April.


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