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Roof gardens, art library, fablabs, rough trade - Paris council puts plans online

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (L) with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (C) on a visit to New York Saturday
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (L) with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (C) on a visit to New York Saturday Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Parisians will have gardens on their roofs, borrow artworks for their homes and enjoy a rich nightlife without being too noisy about it during new Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s term in office. Going with the transparency trend, the Socialist city council has published its plans for the French capital online and Hidalgo has held an online videoconference with members of the public.

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Even the city’s right-wing opposition was impressed by the new openness, when 21 committee chairs published “roadmaps” agreed with the mayor on the city council website this week.

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The plans vary little from the Socialists’ manifesto during March’s local council elections and the long, grey blocks of text are not exactly written in stirring prose but now any Parisian, or anyone interested in the city who speaks French, can read the council’s main plans for the next six years.

Hidalgo stresses that she is keen to see action on most of the promises within the first 100 days of her term.

The mayor has also held her first “hangout” – an online video conference in which she answers question from Parisians who were well-informed enough to know that the exciting new initiative was taking place.

Others are to follow.

The council’s efforts to get down with the voters has caused a proliferation of jargon vaguely related to English. As well as “hangouts” there will be “fablabs”  - “creative spaces” in which to share ideas on fashion and design - and “rough trade” - not sexual slumming in Pigalle but musical events organised in conjunction with record shops and “mythical” labels.

Other cultural projects include:

  • A circus and street performers’ centre;
  • More street art, with the council finding walls where graffitists will be encouraged to let their creative juices flow;
  • An art library, where Parisians can borrow artworks for their homes;
  • Restoration of murals by 19th-century Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix in the Saint Sulpice church near the Gare du Nord.

Hidalgo urges her culture commissar, Bruno Julliard, to get cracking on a music festival, Paris Folies d’Hiver, to be held on the Grands Boulevards that are home to swish department stores and historic arcades and have it up and running by winter 2016.

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Julliard is also ordered to work out what to do with the “love padlocks” fixed by tourists on the Pont des Arts bridge - apparently threatening structural damage -  and now spreading to other bridges over the Seine.

Other knotty problems are not mentioned, notably whether Paris will bid to host the 2024 Olympics.

On a visit to New York this weekend Hidalgo said that financial constraints meant that she had “other priorities”.

The council intends to give the city’s nightlife a boost – the spooky catacombs, the stately parks and 10 libraries will all be staying open later – but a “council of the night” will be set up to reduce tensions between residents and late-night revellers.

Hidalgo, whom New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed as a bold progressive, hopes to make Paris go greener, encouraging vegetation on Paris’s buildings, car-sharing and, possibly, districts where high-polluting vehicles are banned.

Environment chief Célia Blauel is told to organise a conference of major European cities in early 2015 ahead of Paris Climat 2015, the 21st international conference on climate change.

As if that wasn’t enough to be going on with, Blauel also has to launch feasibility studies on allowing bathing in the pool in the La Villette science park and a lake in the Bois de Vincennes.

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