The City of Light Has a Dirty Secret

Refuse of all kinds is piling up in Paris
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2019 4:50 PM CDT
Updated Sep 22, 2019 5:20 PM CDT
Europe's Gem Is Really 'a Mess'
People have lunch past overflowing garbage cans and rubbish bags in Paris, France, Thursday, June 9, 2016.   (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Paris has long been brimming with culture, romance, beauty—and, in recent years, too much trash. From Place de la République to the Trocadéro gardens, the city is full of homeless people, beer cans, wrappers, cigarette butts, abandoned bicycles and scooters, and (of course) dog poop, the Guardian reports. It's gotten so bad that locals are calling the city Paris poubelle, or "trash can Paris." For example, Japan Airlines and Japanese tour managers got so concerned in 2016 that they dedicated weekends to cleaning Trocadéro gardens to appease visitors. All this despite City Hall paying nearly $600 million annually to clear out 30,000 trash bins and 35 tons of cigarette ends, along with roughly 16 tons of doggy doo left daily.

Parisians debate the cause. "Nothing is organised, everything is urban anarchy," says an American University of Paris professor. "I don't think Parisians notice it, because it's their chaotic energy. But if you're from the outside, or from another culture, the city is a mess." The city—Europe's most densely populated—has also seen an influx of migrants, some of whom live in encampments in a northern district beset by "indiscipline and incivility," says another professor. "We need proposals to break the vicious cycle." Apropos, socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo is up for re-election in March and may need a plan. Paris does have "incivility brigades" to fine litterers, but they're rarely seen. Rats, however, have been spotted increasingly in recent years, Politico reported in April. (Read more Paris stories.)

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