Paris to ban tourist buses from city centre amid complaints of ‘too many’ visitors
Tourist buses are “no longer welcome” in central Paris, the French capital’s deputy mayor has announced, insisting that visitors switch to environmentally friendlier alternatives “like everyone else”.
Emmanuel Grégoire’s call for foreigners to walk, cycle or take public buses and metros around Paris rather than gas-guzzling coaches came amid questions over whether the City of Lights can handle any further growth in mass tourism.
Mr Grégoire told Le Parisien newspaper that while the situation in Paris was not as critical as in places like Venice or Barcelona, Parisians were in particular concerned about the influx of tourist buses.
“We no longer want the total anarchy of tourist buses in Paris…Buses are no longer welcome in the very heart of the city,” said Mr Gregoire.
Fleets of coaches and buses shuttle tourists around central Paris between the main monuments and bring in budget travellers from around Europe, often in highly pollutive diesel vehicles.
This week the capital banned all diesel vehicles aged 13 years or over from the city centre, the latest move in a campaign to tackle pollution on the city’s streets.
“Tourists can do like everyone else does and switch to environmentally friendly mobility options or take public transport. We need change,” said Mr Gregoire.
France’s new law on mobility grants local authorities more powers to clamp down on traffic and transport alternatives including rented bicycles and electric scooters.
Mr Gregoire said that until new legislation to reduce bus traffic came into force, authorities would put in place parking spots outside the city so that buses no longer drive into the centre.
His comments came days after the Socialist town hall held a seminar called: “Are there too many tourists in Paris?”. During the event, authorities asked whether Parisians “risk having enough of tourists” who boosted the local economy but brought noise pollution, pressure on rent and traffic congestion.
In response, France’s federation of tour guides accused municipal authorities of failing tourists on a range of areas from public toilets to the fight against pickpockets.
“Paris must commit to ensuring a quality welcome to tourists. Currently, it’s woefully lacking,” said its vice-president, Aude Deboaisne.
Mr Grégoire insisted that tourist guides should adapt by developing guided bicycle tours, or walking tours with headphones.
Last year, tourist arrivals in Paris and the surrounding Ile-de-France region set a record of 50 million people, up from 48 million in 2017, despite violent “yellow vest” protests against the government every weekend starting from November.
France is the world’s most visited country, receiving a record 89.4 million visitors last year, up from 86.9 million in 2017.