Why Paris is becoming one of Europe’s Greenest Cities

The French capital may not be the world’s greenest city but it is certainly taking strides to become one of Europe’s greenest cities. Already home to over 421 parks and gardens, Paris was already amongst the topmost sustainable cities in Europe in terms of green spaces. However, after hosting the 2015 climate summit, Paris became determined to entirely lead the way in sustainability. Therefore, Paris is fast becoming more focused on green initiatives which are becoming very clear throughout the city. One such improvement is the dramatic increase in access to forms of environmentally friendly transportation, making it easy for tourists to see the sights.

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transformed into a refreshing eco-space

This year, Paris removed 70,000 parking spaces. The idea is to give these spaces back to the residents of Paris. As you wander through Paris, it is clear to see that what were previously car park spaces have now been transformed into a refreshing eco-space instead. These include:

  • Exercise spaces
  • Playgrounds
  • Trees
  • Bike lock ups
  • Scooter parking spaces
  • Bike/scooter lanes
  • Electric car charging points

Removing car parking spaces hugely discourages car users. There are, however, still an abundance of car users on the roads in Paris in many busy areas. Now, many of the areas home to idyllic French cafes are less disturbed by traffic noise and instead surrounded with a more peaceful and people oriented atmosphere. 

The transformation of car park spaces into a force for good is certainly a large step in the right direction. This go green initiative has led to an increase in scooter users and cyclists, as well as increased use of the Metro and bus system.

Scottish Breakfast

Cycling

In the past year, 50km of bike lanes have been added to the streets of Paris with more to come. In addition to this, Vélib’ Métropole, the city’s bike rental scheme has over 400,000 subscribers! It has 1400 docking points in the Greater Paris area and 20,000 bicycles, including 35% of electric bikes.

There are many routes throughout the entire city for cyclists. A great one for tourists is the route from the Tower directly to Notre Dame. While cycling this route myself, I saw lovely views across the Seine.

With a 3 day pass including the use of up to 5 bikes costing 20 euros, Vélib’ Métropole is the perfect way to get around.

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Scooters

Yet another eco-friendly transport option. Most electric scooter rental companies in Paris cost €1 to unlock and further €0.15 per minute. 

You can get around 15 mph out of most scooters so you can easily travel from the Eiffel Tower across to the Arch De Triumph in less than 5 minutes.

Dare I say it, this means that scooters may possibly be even more suitable for tourists. However, I personally preferred a bike as this provides exercise and you are able to enjoy the views more at a slower pace.

 

The Metro

The Metro in Paris has approximately 7 million daily users.

Being 214km-long with 303 stations means there is access to all areas of the city.

The Metro runs from 5:30 am until 1:15 am Sunday through to Thursday and until 2:15 am the rest of the week. There are trains arriving every 5/10 minutes on all lines so this makes it an extremely accessible eco-friendly mode of transport for residents as well as tourists.

  • Sunday through to Thursday, the last train arrives at the end of the line at 1:15 a.m. at the latest
  • Friday, Saturday and the night before public holidays, the last train arrives at the end of the line at 2:15 a.m. at the latest
  • The first trains start their runs at 5:30 a.m. on all the lines 

With all these sustainable transport options, Paris is clearly putting its plans into action in the hopes of becoming one of Europe’s greenest cities. In addition to each mode of green transport, Paris is an extremely walkable city, so you will have no problem moving around this spectacular capital. I have an extremely bad sense of direction and even I have had little difficulty in finding the areas I am looking for. Although, make sure you get on the metro in the correct direction. Once or twice, I may or may not have travelled in the wrong direction.

Highlights of Paris

Parks and gardens

There is an abundance of green spaces throughout the French capital. In my aimless wanderings around Paris, I have found that I am usually no more than ten minutes from a park or garden. They provide the perfect place for a rest and many even have food carts nearby or inside and sometimes even cafes. Throughout my strolls around these luscious green areas, I have seen many picnics on the go, people exercising, children playing and people simply sitting reading. Also, green spaces are currently being added to the roofs of many existing buildings.

3 garden and park recommendations:

  1. The Palais Royale gardens are free to wander through.
  2. Tuileries garden is absolutely lovely and full of atmosphere. Definitely take time to explore it after experiencing the spectacular Louvre.
  3. Buttes Chaumont is 25 hectares in size and with varying levels, you can enjoy beautiful Parisian views.

Water fountains

What makes these green spaces even better is the addition of water fountains! You can fill your bottle up from them for free with delicious cold clean water. Most are still water but as Parisians are a fan of sparkling water, there are now some of those available too.

Tree planting

By 2026, mayor Hidalgo has pledged to plant more than 170,000 trees throughout Paris with an aim to have 50 percent of the city covered in planted areas by 2030. There are various other plans in place to improve the air quality of the city. One such plan is to plant ‘tree tunnels’ along the 1.9km-long avenue Champs Elysees. Another plan in place is the building of urban forests near popular landmarks.

Green buildings creating energy efficiency

Paris is aiming to become carbon neutral by 2050. Therefore, all new builds will be made in this way using sustainable initiatives such as geothermal plants for heating and solar panels. However, the buildings in place already are also receiving ‘green makeovers’ with greenery being added to many buildings and green spaces added to rooftops. Making buildings more energy-efficient will help to quickly reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

Furthermore, numerous Parisian hotels are now becoming more sustainable in the hopes of obtaining a certificate showing their level of sustainability. Therefore, you can enjoy eco-friendly accommodation in addition to nature throughout the city.

Sustainable eating choices 

Each improvement in Paris has been wonderfully transformative. However, the city also needs to focus on making more vegetarian and vegan options available in restaurants. That being said, various restaurants of this sort have started to pop up here and there. 

Try out these veggie restaurants –

  • La Contrabande
  • Kitchen Paris
  • Naya studio
  • Sense eat
  •  Le Potager du Marais

Of course, you can always head to one of the many Parisian boulangeries that you will come across when wandering from area to area. Here you will find plenty of vegetarian options – many of them in sweet form!

I’ve been eating my way through each arrondissement, testing Parisian pastries, tarts, cakes, croissants and I’ve had many a baguette! A number of almond croissants and pain au chocolats have had to be tried too of course! And don’t forget French wine is of course meat-free so for the sake of the planet, I’ve been having to try out a bottle or two. Add in a Sidecar, a popular Parisian cocktail and you will have yourself the perfect weekend in Paris.

There are yet strides to be made in other sustainable areas such as plastic reduction and waste management. However, if Paris addresses issues such as these with the same ferocity as ones mentioned in this article, then this French capital is going to fast become one of Europe’s greenest cities. 

Tourists will be able to enjoy the charm of Paris safe in the knowledge that they are staying in a city that not only cares about the people but the Earth as well. And with such easy access to all areas, Paris is very much a tourist-friendly city. So, choose an eco-accommodation and off you go to Paris!

 

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