Paris is not a perfect city. It is expensive, still with the power to shock. Few adult males wear short pants even when temperatures nose up to 30-degrees C
More disturbing, Paris’ fêted core, let’s say arrondisements 1 through 20, is encircled by a second city where the less affluent, the less, well, French, live, where unemployment and racism run rampant and on any given night after some sort of altercation between the residents and authorities will light up riotously under the glow of burning cars. It is a part of Paris not included in the travel brochures although it does grab its fair share of international news headlines. A dynamic Toronto would do well to heed, as the have and have-not gulf between the downtown and the older suburbs here simmers on low-to-medium boil during the current election campaign.
Of course, there is some irony to this people friendly feature. Under the mid-19th century plan for a “new” Paris, the self-anointed Baron Haussmann razed the “old” Paris to make way for large,
Many sections of the city still display those traits but they tend to be the least interesting places with the Champs-Élysées springing immediately to mind. But there are neighbourhoods throughout Paris that aren’t about exclusion. With almost no single family dwellings within the core (especially after the violent elimination of royalty and the eventual petering out of emperor-ity), Paris possesses a vigorous communal vibe. Not only in the oft-mentioned and boundless number of cafés but in the plentiful amounts of public green space both large and small.
The Paris we visit today, like many other European cities, has the advantage of coalescing before the modern age truly kicked in. Space was limited not only because of size but because travel was no easy feat. People (certainly those not graced with money) stayed put unless dire circumstances forced them to move on, and cities were built up around their citizenry.
We here in the new world were blessed and cursed with the advantages of growing and prospering in a later age. With perceived unlimited space, our neighbourhoods consisted of houses not flats or apartments. Travel was made easy by the development and encouragement of private automobiles and the evolution of the car culture. Whole communities sprung up owing to that one single fact. The car scar is what we bear now. Our places, including much of Toronto, were designed for things, namely cars, not people.
— parisienly submitted by Urban Sophisticat