Sunday 20 December 2009

A Top 12 of the Noughties in Paris, Part One

Since it is not only the end of the year, but also the end of a decade, I have decided to do what everyone else is doing and produce a list. I have stuck with the Paris theme and produced a very subjective list of what I consider to have been the most significant events in the city over the decade and how I have experienced them. Although several events apply to France as a whole, I have tried to give just the Paris perspective.

The list could not have any particular order of importance, so I have decided to be date specific. Because you and I have little time to read and write blogs at this time of the year, and to spare you from a huge block of text, I’ve also decided to split the list into separate posts – one a day over the festive period!

Have I missed any events? Have you had any important experiences of your own over this period? Don’t hesitate to add your own remarks in the comments!

The Election of Bertand Delanoë as Mayor of Paris (2001)
If there is one word that has marked the first ten years of this new century in Paris it is ‘Bobo’. The city has become the playground of the young bourgeois/bohemian, a reasonably well off character who nevertheless tries to have a social conscience and live in an unostentatious manner. I readily admit that I am one of them.

If this population has one champion it is the Mayor of the city, Bertrand Delanoë. In my first full decade in Paris I have seen two Presidential elections and two city elections. The former are obviously more important for the country as a whole, but from an individual perspective, the latter have greater meaning, and this for one key reason – I am allowed to vote. As a foreigner, I have no role to play in Presidential elections, but as a European citizen I have been able to vote in city elections. This has left me with the curious sensation of feeling more part of Paris than of France as a whole.

I remember Delanoë’s election in 2001 quite clearly. I had paid little attention to his predecessor, Jean Tiberi, but Delanoë seemed like a figure who could provoke a radical and fundamental change in the city. Firstly, he was openly and proudly Gay, and in a very conformist political system, he was someone who could present a more diverse face for the city. I was clearly not the only one with this sentiment as he was easily elected as the first Socialist Mayor of the city after nearly 25 years of right-wing rule.

And the city did change. He may sometimes be accused of running Paris through stunts and show events - it is now almost as well-known for things such as ‘Paris Plages’ and the ‘Nuits Blanches’ as it is for its more permanent architectural features - but wider bus lanes, one way streets and new car-free zones have also made it more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, and is today listed as the tenth greenest city in Europe.

What about the man himself? In truth, Delanoë often comes across as a little cold, obdurate and humourless, but perhaps this dates back to the moment when he was stabbed during the first Nuits Blanches event in 2002. Critics also point to the limited business initiatives in the city which sometimes seems to be stalling on the world stage, but he was nevertheless re-elected in 2008 with an increased majority. Moving into a new decade, the Bobo is clearly still an important part of Paris life.


Thérèse said...


Christine H. said...

A tough job, no doubt, but three cheers for Paris Plage and the bike lanes.

Franglais said...

Hey, Invisible Paris! As a french student dreaming of exploring Paris one day, this ia an awesome blog, can't wait to hear more form ya!

Cergie said...

Intéressant ta réflexion sur ces dix années passées... Tout est à la fois subjectif et relève du champ de conscience. Toi tu as un enfant jeune. Tu commences sans doute ta vie professiionnelle avec fougue ? Moi j'ai élevé mes enfants et je profite de mon temps et donc je vois les choses sous un aspect différent que lorsque ej les avais "à charge".
Au début de cette décennie passée (l'aîné de mes fils a passé son bac en 2000), je me suis beaucoup investie dans ce qui était études, lycées, logements étudiants etc...
Dès à présent ce sera plus musées, événements, etc...
Vivre Paris tout simplement.

Anonymous said...

What a great way to wrap up the first ten years of the new millennium!
Looking forward to the next 11 installments.

PeterParis said...

I think a lot of things have changed to the better since I moved to Paris, some 35 years ago, which include then of course also what was sone during the Chirac reign.

I will check your complete list!

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