Paris eyes three-week Covid-19 lockdown in bid to then ‘reopen everything’

The city of Paris is considering proposing a three-week lockdown in a bid to “reopen everything” in the City of Lights afterwards, the deputy mayor said Thursday, calling the current nighttime curfew a “half-measure” and a “semi-prison” that never ends.

In an interview with French broadcaster Franceinfo, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire said that the left-wing run city hall was considering proposing an independent local lockdown for the French capital to stem the “worrying” rise of new coronavirus infections there, with “the prospect of reopening everything” after, including its theatres, cinemas and restaurants.

Grégoire described the current anti-Covid-19 measures imposed by Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government, including the country’s 6pm-6am curfew, as “half- measures with bad results”, adding that that “we can’t be forced to live in a semi-prison for months”.

Like the rest of the country, Paris has been under a night curfew since December 15, but bars, restaurants and cultural venues have been closed even longer.

Grégoire’s comments came on the heels of Prime Minister Jean Castex’s announcement Thursday that Paris and 19 other regions in the country were placed under “heightened surveillance” and that they risk coming under weekend lockdown at the start of March unless the number of new coronavirus infections drops. The southern city of Nice and the northern area of Dunkirk have already been ordered into lockdowns on weekends. [ . . . ]

 

Continue at FRANCE24: Paris eyes three-week Covid-19 lockdown in bid to then ‘reopen everything’

Paris is Turning Its Dark Underground Parking Lots into Organic Mushrooms Farms

The startup Cycloponics is growing 100-200 kilos of mushrooms a week in underground parking lots in Paris, Strasbourg, and Bordeaux.

What can you do with a dark underground parking lot that isn’t being used anymore? Think fungus.

Unused parking garages around the French capital have been turned into organic mushroom farms, thanks to a company called Cycloponics.

Allowing an extremely nutritious crop to be grown and sold directly in Paris, the initiative is part of a number of renovation projects the City is encouraging and sponsoring.

Along with shitake, oyster, and white button mushrooms, Cycloponics grows chicory—a French delicacy that can grow in the dark—as well as microgreens like mini broccoli. These are delivered via bicycle to local organic grocery stores.

Their location in Paris is called “The Cave,” and it’s one of three such converted garages that have been co-founded since 2017 by the coincidentally named Theo Champagnat. Continue reading “Paris is Turning Its Dark Underground Parking Lots into Organic Mushrooms Farms”

How Paris Created a Cycling Boom

It’s no Amsterdam, but the City of Light is catching up.

By Erik Nelson

When Lone Andersen lived in Paris in the 1980s, she says she saw “almost no cyclists. I saw one once and I almost felt that I should take a picture.” Despite the fact that France’s most iconic athletic symbol is a bike race, its capital city has never been known as a biking mecca the way Amsterdam or Copenhagen are.

Today, through a mix of new infrastructure, bike sharing and public transit frustrations, that’s changing. In fact, the city’s deputy mayor for transportation, Christophe Najdovski, recently reported that:

PARIS SAW A 54 PERCENT INCREASE IN CYCLISTS BETWEEN SEPTEMBER 2018 AND SEPTEMBER 2019.

That’s according to counts by digital meters set up at 56 sites around Paris to monitor biking. The Copenhagenize index, a comprehensive assessment of bike-friendliness, gives the French capital high marks for adding exclusive bike lanes and pushing bike sharing. But this year’s index says that with a paltry 5 percent of its commuters biking, Paris is a long way from catching up to Copenhagen’s 62 percent.

What could account for the explosion? Paris officials told local media that vélotaf — slang for bike commuting — is a big reason for the increase, while Najdovski touts the city’s plan vélo, or bike plan. The plan has realized amenities like the new two-way cycling path along the Seine’s Left Bank, running 1.5 miles from the Quai d’Orsay in the central city to Alma Bridge. It’s among nearly 200 extra miles of bike paths and lanes in the 2015 plan, along with a $780 million bike-sharing system — one that has admittedly been beset by delays and malfunctions.

If you ask longtime Parisian cycling campaigner and municipal cycling adviser Isabelle Lesens, those new commuters aren’t switching from cars. “It’s very well known that people living in Paris are really fed up with the subway because it’s absolutely crowded,” she says. “So when they discovered it could be possible to go by bike, they tried it.” That incentive can only grow with each public transit strike, like the one this week.

And while more liberal municipal governments vow to accommodate cyclists, even more conservative politicians are jumping on the two-wheeled bandwagon, Lesens says, because of the proliferation of app-based bike sharing. They’ve made it possible to be simultaneously bike-friendly and pro-business, while “nobody dares to be opposed to cycling because of the climate problems,” Lesens explains.

TOPSHOT-FRANCE-WEATHER-SNOW

Still, Paris’ Socialist mayor, Anne Hidalgo, is taking heat in local media for failing to put the mettle to the pedal after completing less than a quarter of the 43 miles of bike pistes separated from cars by curbs that she’d promised in 2015.

Nevertheless, Hidalgo’s determination to “turn Paris into a global cycling capital” seems to be working. In 2013, Paris was ranked 19th on the Copenhagenize index’s list of best cycling cities. This year it’s ranked eighth. Hidalgo has also famously declared war on the electric scooters ubiquitous in the French capital, setting new rules to regulate the machines that riders often abandon in bike lanes.

Cycling in Paris isn’t for everyone, even those who are fit enough to stay balanced and keep pedaling. Frank Andrews, a 26-year-old journalism graduate student, grew up in London and calls the two cities’ biking environments “kind of comically different.”

Back in England, there are rules: “Most of my friends and myself have been fined for running lights,” Andrews says. Not so in Paris, where “it’s a bit survival of the fittest out on those streets.”

It’s easy to see how Andrews, a resident of the 6th Arrondissement, can hold his own on les rues moyennes, commuting with an expensive fixed-wheel bike like ones used in velodromes. Brakes are his only concession to convenience.

Andrews attributes the ridership growth to delivery services and “Uberized” cycling via sharing apps. As for the latter, Andrews sniffs, “I feel like I see them more on their sides, discarded on a bridge.”

And Andersen, now a traffic engineer in Copenhagen, says her more recent forays onto Paris streets haven’t been encouraging: “I have never felt an urge to ride a bike in Paris — simply because I think it is too dangerous.” In April, the prefecture of police released figures indicating bike accidents had increased about 12.5 percent over the previous year, with 147 cyclists hurt (though none killed) in three months.

What the city needs, she believes, is more lanes with solid curb separating bikes from motorized vehicles. “If the infrastructure isn’t there, you will not get people to [cycle] on a large scale because they don’t feel safe,” she says.

The more Paris is willing to sacrifice space occupied by its Citroëns and Peugeots, Andersen adds, the more it’ll be able to coax even the faint of heart to pedal onto the city’s grand boulevards.

Source: How Paris Created a Cycling Boom – OZY | A Modern Media Company

Paris’s Champs-Élysées will get a pedestrian-friendly green overhaul

Mayor Anne Hidalgo has approved a $304-million plan to pedestrianize the city’s famed Champs-Élysées avenue by 2030 after the Olympics

The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has approved a $304-million (250 million euro) plan to transform the city’s famed Champs-Élysées into a pedestrian-friendly public space by 2030.

The ambitious restoration project, proposed by the local community and first unveiled in 2019, will overhaul the 1.2-mile-long central street in of the French capital that connects the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde into what Hidalgo refers to as an “extraordinary garden” in Le Journal du Dimanche.

Frustrated by the alienating effect that the luxury stores and expensive restaurants had on the locals, the Champs-Élysées committee has been campaigning for the redesign since 2018 and proposed the now approved project in 2019. The scheme was designed by PCA-Stream, a French architectural firm based in Paris. PCA-Stream principal and founder Philippe Chiambaretta stated that his goal was to convert the boulevard into a space that would be “ecological, desirable and inclusive.”

Lately, the “world’s most beautiful avenue,” as it’s sometimes known, has fallen on hard times and hosted several consecutive crises thanks to its prominent location in the heart of the French capital: After the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) protests, strikes, and high-end retail gentrification over the last 30 years, the scheme looks to return the street to local residents. The committee, headed by Jean-Noel Reinhardt welcomed the mayor’s good news.

PCA-Stream’s scheme seeks to close half of the street’s eight lanes to cars and insert pockets of greenery or “planted living rooms.” According to Chiabaretta, this will improve the air quality of a street that sees up to an average of 3,000 cars per hour. The revitalization will also introduce food kiosks and meeting spaces in an attempt to attract locals back into the area and return it to a space closer to its original purpose of fostering open-air comingling.

The avenue was originally conceived by André Le Nôtre, King Louis XIV’s landscape architect, in 1667 as an extension to the gardens at the Tuileries Palace to the southeast on the bank of the River Seine. In 1709, the finished boulevard took its name from the Greek Elysian Fields, an outdoor paradise for the righteous to frolic in for all eternity. The new renovation be delivered in two stages; the work at the Place de la Concorde, Paris’s largest public square, will be completed before the Olympic games in 2024 with the rest following, with a completion date set for 2030.

Source: Paris’s Champs-Élysées will get a pedestrian-friendly green overhaul

‘Call My Agent!’: Camille Cottin on Portraying Paris Without the Clichés

The final season of the hit French show is now on Netflix.

BY LALE ARIKOGLU

If there’s been one unexpected hit during a time when our main activity is Netflix and, well, more Netflix, it’s Call My Agent!

The French television show set at a Parisian talent agency has been a lighthearted salve thanks to its razor sharp depictions of the relationships between stars and their agents—not to mention the added charm of Paris as its backdrop. It’s fourth and final season is now available to stream here in the U.S. and comes complete with cameos from big names like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Sigourney Weaver, as well as the usual competitive antics we’ve come to expect from its beloved cast. We caught up with Camille Cottin, who plays the incomparable Andréa Martel, to talk about the challenges her character faces, Parisian clichés, and what she has missed most about the city during lockdown.

The show launched in France in 2015 but it really only landed on most American’s radars this past year. How do you think it’s been received by the different audiences?

It’s difficult to have popular and critical success at the same time, but that is what happened in France, and it’s funny to see all this interest starting again now. I just read an article in the New York Times saying that what makes the show interesting is [the way] it talks about the industry. Previously, the industry was always shown as cynical, and this is a tender show. There’s humor, there’s satire, we make fun of the people we’re depicting, but at the same time, there’s love, big love for cinema, big love for actors, big love for the people of the industry.

The producers [told me] they were quite surprised that it had an international echo, though, because it only talks about French actors. But it really depicts a star: the selfie star, or the nervous star, or the jealous star. Plus, the [agency] is like a family, they are all figures with whom you can identify with—and their [dynamics] of power, competition, and jealousy. The problems they deal with are human ones.

Paris, of course, is the backdrop to those relationships. What have been some of your favorite locations to film in?

Well, I loved the flat they gave [Andréa], which is twice the size of mine! But one true favorite is the scene at the end of season one: [My character] just got dumped and I feel lonely and sad, walking along that very famous bridge,

Continue reading “‘Call My Agent!’: Camille Cottin on Portraying Paris Without the Clichés”