“Paris City Hall’s projects pose a threat to Parisian squares, islands of freshness and biodiversity in the dense city”


Lhe public spaces of large capitals concentrate complex issues at a time of new environmental policies and m tourism. The overcrowding, which now extends from the center to the suburbs, contributes to disrupting the fragile balances of local life and to degrading public green spaces such as the Champ-de-Mars, but also the squares, these local gardens which punctuate all districts of Paris.

It is in this context that the Paris City Hall plans to remove the gates of several squares, strangely designated in its documents as “identity fences”. A debate on this subject has been underway since October 4 at the Paris Council and is continuing in the neighborhood councils concerned.

However, these grids, whose ironwork are elegant filters between traffic routes and gardens, constitute the framework which allows us to protect the flourishing of plant beds and their biodiversity – because, like humans, plants need periods of regeneration, particularly at night.

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They also make it possible to accommodate, away from the hustle and bustle and dangers of traffic (including bicycles), the many activities that take place in the squares: relaxation and rest, physical activities, games for children who can run freely there. . In all neighborhoods, these precious oases are appreciated and used according to the times and seasons by all audiences. We also miss the guardians, now absent, who watched over the well-being of the vegetation and that of the users.

A start of dialogue

The ancient and recent history of Parisian gardens reveals that, as a general rule, unfenced squares had to be re-fenced due to maintenance and safety problems: trampled lawns and flowerbeds, untimely occupations, stormy episodes, etc.

The town hall project now threatens several sites:

  • on the outskirts of Notre-Dame, square Jean-XXIII (former square de l’Archevêché) and that of Ile-de-France, attached to the Memorial to the victims of the deportation, on the eastern tip of the island of Quoted. The mive success of the petition Let’s save the squares of Notre-Dame », launched at the end of April and which collected more than 53,000 signatures, allowed the start of dialogue between its initiator and the office of the Minister of Culture. The latter would discuss with the City;
  • at the “crossroads of Paris”, the square de la Tour-Saint-Jacques, which has already had the unfortunate experience of the removal of the gates in 1968 and to which it was necessary to put them back, higher and less elegant than those of origin, in the 1990s. There is talk of removing them again;
  • in the 11e arrondist, on the central reservation of Richard-Lenoir and Jules-Ferry boulevards which covers the Saint-Martin canal. This site includes four densely planted squares created in 1993 in place of open-air parking lots. These squares are today threatened by a global “redevelopment” project between Bastille and Stalingrad.

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