A grey day for the VE day bank holiday. The streets were quiet this morning, away from the main tourist areas. This is the riverside on Île St Louis, looking back across the Seine to the Hôtel de Ville, which is almost hidden by trees.
There’s a ribbon of trees all the way down the north bank of the island. The river is very high at the moment and at the upstream point of the island the water is lapping around the trunks of the trees. Where the quayside is higher, limes, plane trees and horse chestnuts line the banks. On the low quays round the island the trees are flood resistant poplars, leaning gently towards the light and towards the water.
Thanks to the trees lining its streets and quaysides, Paris is a remarkably green city despite its density. According to the website of the Mairie de Paris, there is 700km of linear tree planting (like this row of trees along the quayside) on 1650 different streets, adding up to around 100,000 arbres d’alignement. By comparison there are a mere 40,000 trees in the 490 public parks, squares and gardens. The Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne, just outside the péripherique, don’t count as parks, They are sizable areas of woodland, with added ornamental features, so it’s no surprise that they contribute some 300,000 trees to the total of 600,000 managed by the city council.
To put these figures in context, the Ville de Paris has a population of around two million and covers 105 square kilometers (40 square miles), making it one of the most densely populated areas in Europe. (A further ten million people live in the wider Paris region, covering 12,000 square kilometers.) The city boundaries of London are drawn much more widely, including an area of 1,500 square kilometers, a population of some 8 million people and 6 million trees.