It has been billed as the biggest redevelopment of Paris since Baron Haussman carved his grand boulevards in the 19th Century.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to reinvent the city as a single entity – “Greater Paris” – with revamped transport and infrastructure. A 35 billion euro transport corridor is already planned for the capital’s outskirts, as Sarkozy explained, paraphrasing the French author Victor Hugo: “Paris will become a real city when we drop the concept of sink estates, of deprived urban areas, when where you live, your address, can no longer be a matter of social discrimination. Greater Paris will be big, grand, beautiful and fair for everyone.” It is hoped the projects will create a million jobs over the next 20 years. There are even plans to open up the Seine as a working waterway leading to Le Havre. But the entire project faces big political hurdles. The city itself, the Ile de France region and seven surrounding departments are controlled by the Left. Sarkozy says he will take their projects into account during a national consultation next year.