#500 new
Casey Reyes

Info about city

Reported by Casey Reyes | January 4th, 2021 @ 09:34 AM

A new urban planning model will change the French capital – and could provide a template for how to create stronger local communities and make residents happier.
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For a long time, Solène Fraioli says she “refused to admit” that Paris could be a stressful place. The 29-year-old waitress, who grew up on the city’s outskirts but now lives in a studio in a historic central district, was dazzled by its infinite opportunity – from Monday-night jazz concerts to West African cuisine and capoeira classes. But Fraioli began to recognise that living in the City of Light had certain disadvantages – particularly its frenetic, nonstop energy. “Paris is a city that is always on the move,” she says. “Everyone, all the time, everywhere.”

That conveyor belt of choice came crashing to a halt with the coronavirus pandemic. But for Fraioli, the two-month lockdown that began on 17 March – confining her to a 1km radius of her home – gave her a nuanced, enriching view of her neighbourhood. “I discovered it’s possible to feel like you're in a small village in Paris,” she says. “To get to know your neighbours, to maintain good links with shopkeepers, to favour local craftsmen and shops over large supermarkets. I even joined a citizens’ movement where people prepare food baskets for homeless people. I thought I would have a hard time living the lockdown, but I was perfectly at home, in a quiet place.”

She’s not the only one who felt this way. “Unexpectedly, this experience strengthened the bonds I had with some people,” says Valentin Jedraszyk, a 25-year-old civil servant living in the south of Paris. “It led me to criss-cross the small streets of my district more than usual and thus to discover magnificent places just a stone’s throw from my home.”

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