02 February 2020

The Guardian: “Paris, city of romance, rues new image as the dirty man of Europe”

The city of light and of romance has become a dirty old town, or as locals have nicknamed it, Paris poubelle (dustbin Paris).

On Saturday, World Cleanup Day, Parisians were urged to pick up the mess they and visitors have made. Paris is definitely getting dirtier. It’s filthy everywhere. The city needs an aggressive policy to make the streets cleaner and safer, said Matthew Fraser, professor of communications at the American University of Paris, who has lived in the city for the best part of 30 years.

Paris thrives on its own moral chaos. Nothing is organised, everything is urban anarchy. I don’t think Parisians notice it, because it’s their chaotic energy. But if you’re from the outside, or from another culture, the city is a mess.

Kim Willsher

Despite its reputation as city of romance, Paris has never been the cleanest city, but apparently that problem has grown out of proportion in recent years. Though I would dispute the idea that it’s the dirtiest city in Europe – people who think that clearly haven’t seen Bucharest. I’ve been wanting to return to Paris for some time, and maybe this will be the year to finally do it. If so, I must remember to compare them and report back with a longer article on the blog.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo
Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, centre, has made efforts to clean up the city’s image, but still faces criticism. Photograph: Stéphane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

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