The drizzle finally stopped towards the end of the afternoon so, with two hours to go until cars took over Paris again, the Champs Élysées was the obvious destination.
With the dampening effect of the weather the Journée Sans Voitures didn’t have quite the festive atmosphere of previous, sunny car-free days…
but it was still an occasion to get out and about, making the most of space that is usually occupied by traffic – six lanes of it in this case.
‘Car free’ is never quite that – taxis, service workers, ‘blue badge’ holders and drivers needing to return home or leave the city are exempt from the ban – but the extent of the restricted zone was wider than ever this year, including all the city within the périphérique ring road.
Oddly the city council was promoting this year’s car free day as Journée Sans Ma Voiture or day without my car. Less than 50% of Parisians own a car and half of those owners don’t use their cars regularly so the majority of people out and about on foot, bike, scooter or skateboard yesterday will have been benefitting from the absence of other people’s cars. Still, as car use declines the remaining core of determined car users will be more and more difficult to nudge out of their vehicles so anything that helps them to feel included in the party on the street must be a good thing.