Greater Paris is on its way. Approval has been given by the French Government for a huge new transport network that will link the Paris outskirts (the French call them “œbanlieues”?) to the city.
The scheme will be very expensive and won’t be completed until 2030, but it will be one of the biggest ever major infrastructure overhauls that Paris has ever attempted. It was conceived originally in 2007 by Nicolas Sarkozy the former French president, though then the costs had been estimated at â‚¬20.5 billion; now they will be very much higher than that, though Jean-Marc Ayrault the current Prime Minister believed that the whole of France will benefit.
There is little doubt that the plan, if completed, will have a major impact on the whole landscape of the city. Once the outskirts are linked to the city’s chic heartland by high speed driverless trains the Paris Ring road will cease being the defined edge of the city.
Most French Presidents stick to leaving their mark on the city through some grand arts scheme such as creating a museum, for instance the Pompidou Centre, however Sarkozy’s dream of a Greater Paris will have a much greater impact on the culture of the city as the city radiates outwards extending its boundaries and creating new wealth, jobs and housing.
Initially the dream turned into a nightmare as it came under huge political scrutiny and led to massive political conflict, but now it has been revived with even greater ambitions. However Sarkozy was not the first leader with ambitions to extend the city boundaries. The first leader to do so was Napoleon III, though his call to extend eastern and western Paris was brought to a halt by political infighting. Now it seems that FranÃ§ois Hollande has picked up Sarkozy’s baton but has called it the “New Greater Paris” scheme to distance it from Sarkozy.
The new scheme includes a “œsuper metro” which will have 72 new metro stations and 125 miles of new lines. The existing metro will be extensively improved and extended and eventually all important suburbs and airports will be linked at a cost of around â‚¬30 billion. The New Greater Paris will be governed by a new body called the Paris Metropole.
Over recent years there have been much improved links fromand the rest of the world including high speed trains and road links; today many visitors to the city travel by coach, as well as train and air. With high speed links to the outer reaches of Paris, the world is getting even smaller.