On Sunday, Paris celebrated its first car-free day.
Paris’s Mayor, Ann Hidalgo, held the day without cars in response to the city’s huge amounts of traffic, high pollution levels (in March, the city was briefly the most polluted city in the world) and a very high proportion of diesel cars, which are particularly polluting in stop-start city traffic. This single day off from cars and their smog, organised at the suggestion of the Paris Without Cars collective, is just the beginning: Hidalgo hopes to rid the centre of the city of diesel vehicles by 2020 and establish permanent car-free routes along the river Seine.
This weekend’s car-free day actually only covered around a third of the city, while car use was “strongly discouraged” in other areas. Groups of skateboarders and cyclists toured the city, and people walked and cycled down the Champs-Élysées in celebration of its unusual emptiness: