Paris to delay city-centre car ban by two years

Paris officials said on Thursday they would delay by two years a sharp reduction in car and motorcycle traffic allowed in the heart of the city, saying they needed more time to implement the change.

Paris to delay city-centre car ban by two years
Central areas of Paris will progressively be turned over to cyclists and pedestrians. Photo by Eric FEFERBERG / AFP

The ban on nearly all vehicle traffic in the Paris Centre district, formerly the first four arrondissements of the capital just north of the Seine river, was announced last May and set to come into effect this year with a massive impact on daily travel expected.

The district includes the two islands on the Seine, whose landmarks include Notre-Dame cathedral and the Sainte-Chapelle, and the winding narrow streets of the Marais.

A large swath of the historic Left Bank and its Saint-Germain-des-Pres neighbourhood would also be part of the so-called “tranquil zone”, off-limits to through-traffic except for residents, taxis and professionals.

It is one of several projects by Socialist Mayor Hidalgo to green one of Europe’s densest cities and tackle chronic air pollution, by reclaiming streets for pedestrians and encouraging bicycles and other travel alternatives.

Hidalgo, whose campaign for the French presidency in looming elections is languishing in opinion polls, is pushing to clean up the city ahead of its hosting of the Summer Olympic Games in 2024.

But the plans targeting drivers have proved divisive, with many complaining of huge traffic jams for residents as well as the millions of people living in suburbs having no viable public transport options for getting to work in the city.

Deputy Mayor David Belliard, in charge of transportation, said that even after the clampdown in 2024 private car trips in the centre districts would be allowed for people “going to the theatre or to visit friends” or with “something to do in the zone.”

Driving into the centre to go shopping will also still be allowed.

But the city “doesn’t want any more through-traffic, which accounts for around 50 percent of traffic in the zone,” Belliard told a press conference.

It was the second retreat this month by Paris City Hall on a key transport  measure, after officials pushed back to next year a ban on older and more-polluting cars that had been set for July 1st.

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MAP: Where and when will Paris ban cars from the city centre?

Authorities in Paris have drawn up ambitious plans to limit traffic in the historic city centre - here's how the plans will work and the revised timetable for introduction.

MAP: Where and when will Paris ban cars from the city centre?

It was announced on Wednesday that authorities in Paris had delayed the introduction of their plan to limit vehicle use in the city centre.

Here’s how the new rules will work, and when they will be introduced.


This does not concern the whole of Paris, but only arrondissements 1-4, which make up much of the historic city centre that runs along the Seine and attracts the most tourists.

The below map from newspaper Le Parisien shows the central zone that will be affected by the new rules


The plans were first announced in May 2021 and were set to come into effect in 2022.

However on Thursday, Paris authorities announced that the start date would be pushed back to 2024, as more preparation time was needed to implement the changes. They will also be conducting a full public enquiry throughout 2022.

The zone was also renamed the zone apaisée (calm zone).

The decision comes after the Paris Police préfecture, which has joint responsibility for the project along with City Hall, published a letter saying they did not support the immediate introduction of the plans due to concerns about access for emergency services, as well as the economic impact on the city.

An exact date for the introduction in 2024 has not been set, but Paris deputy mayor Emmanuel Grégoire said it will start at the beginning of 2024, ahead the Paris Olympics, which will be held in July and August.


The plans as envisaged by City Hall don’t constitute a complete ban on all vehicles in the city centre, and there are many exceptions.

The main target is through traffic – vehicles driving through the central zone on their way to another part of the city – which according to David Belliard, the Paris deputy mayor in charge of transportation, accounts for 50 percent of all traffic in the city centre.

There will be exemptions for people who live in the central zones to use cars, as well as allowances for delivery drivers, the disabled, taxis, VTC vehicles such as Uber, buses and car-sharing.

Also allowed in will be people whose “destination is the calm zone” – Belliard explained: “If I live there, if I work there, if I go to the cinema, to see friends, or to a shop… All this will be allowed.”

The zone will be enforced by both police checks at the entry and exit of the zone and also by more technical means such as number-plate recognition cameras for residents, although City Hall concedes that much will depend on “self regulation” of people following the rules.

Even with all the above exemptions, City Hall estimate that their plans will cut around 250,000 journeys a day.

Do Parisians support it?

Some do, some don’t. According to City Hall, 78 percent of people who answered their online and paper surveys (around 7,500 people) support the concept of limiting city-centre traffic.

But the project has also drawn vociferous criticism from many, who claim it will simply push traffic out to the less central arrondissements – which are less wealthy and attract fewer tourists – in effect simply moving the problem. The mayors of the 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissements, which lie just outside the zone, are opposed to it.

Opponents also claim it will unfairly target commuters from the outer suburbs, where public transport is often poor.

The scheme is part of a long-running effort from Paris authorities to make the city centre less polluted and more car and pedestrian friendly which has included pedestrianising the Quais along the Seine, barring traffic on certain roads such as the Rue de Rivoli and adding extra cycle lanes throughout the city centre. 

Banning older cars

In addition to the city-centre ban, Paris authorities are also phasing in restrictions on older and more polluting vehicles, based on the Crit-Air sticker system.