Paris pledges to spruce up after wave of criticism

Social media hashtag 'trashed Paris' has gained momentum in the city

Visitors gather at the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. France is back in business as a tourist destination after opening its borders Wednesday to foreign visitors who are inoculated against the coronavirus with vaccines approved by the European Union's medicines agency. France's acceptance of only the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines means that tourism is still barred for would-be visitors from China and other countries that use other vaccines. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Paris officials on Monday detailed eight measures to spruce up one of the world's most visited cities after a social media campaign criticising rubbish and other eyesores.

For months, residents have been posting pictures of dirty or dilapidated urban furniture, abandoned scooters or ramshackle terraces set up by cafes during the pandemic, with the hashtag #saccageparis, or 'trashed Paris'.

It has put Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who is considering a bid for the presidency, on the defensive.

"We're not doing this in response to saccageparis," deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said.

"But when we are called out by our citizens ... they deserve to be listened to and respected," Mr Gregoire said.

"The things being said by the saccageparis groups are not wrong."

He said the push for a "new aesthetic" would include repainting historic elements of public space, including the ornate iron and wood "Davioud" benches from the Second Empire.

The city will also remove or renovate recent "Mikado" benches, which often resemble haphazard piles of railroad ties, that many Parisians love to hate.

About 2,000 "useless" advertising panels will come down, Mr Gregoire said.

And he pledges "more discrete and harmonious" painting and barriers for the 60 kilometres of bicycle lanes that were quickly carved out during the pandemic.

Most of the lanes are marked with plastic yellow poles or concrete construction blocks that have not aged well.

Ms Hidalgo's right-wing critics and some residents accuse her of allowing the capital to fall into neglect while making trips to other French cities to court allies for her rumoured presidential run next year.

She has claimed the city is being hit by a smear campaign, and has promised to double spending on cleaning during her second term as mayor to €1 billion ($1.19bn).

Updated: July 5th 2021, 9:18 PM
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