Paris is for walkers and cyclists as city bans cars for day

PARIS — Parisians and tourists were encouraged to stroll through the City of Light on Sunday as officials banned cars from its streets for a day.

Paris has experimented with car-free days in the past, but Sunday marked the first time the entire city was handed over to ramblers, cyclists and roller-bladers.

Only emergency vehicles, buses and taxis were allowed on the streets from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Paris time.

"It's nice for the air quality, for enjoying the city, walking around without any noise, without any risk to be run over by a car," Maxime Denis said as he strolled near Place de la Republique in the city center. "But it should be a real no car day. There are still a few so we are careful."

Another resident, Francois Boillat, noted that "as a Parisian, I only use public transport all the time, even though I have a car buried in a sixth basement car park and I barely use it. It is a bit stupid. I should sell it."

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected on a promise to curb air pollution and reduce car traffic in the French capital, where vehicle emissions are often high.

The car-free day created a potential headache for the organizers of Paris fashion week, who rely on trucks to install and remove lavish, sky's-the-limit shows. Worried fashion houses like Valentino sent out numerous email reminders to guests who planned to arrive by car, reminding them to organize alternative transport.

The Paris couture federation, which supports the initiative, spent months working with police and local authorities to ensure events ran smoothly.

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