Paris is sinking, the rats are leaving the ship
by France Missud
Paris no longer makes you dream. At least not its inhabitants. Stress, pollution, cost of living, shitty weather, everyone knows for a very long time that Paris is not a city where life is good when you worry a little about your physical or mental health, but, with the Covid, the discomfort has worsened, and the desire to get out becomes concrete. Parisians take action. They break. Really. And in large numbers.
A little history never hurt.
Paris would have been founded in the 3rd century BC. J.-C.. but one really hears about it for the first time in 53 av J.-C. when it is besieged by a Roman general, whose name I spare you, because in any case you do not you will never remember. It was in the 5th century, under the reign of Clovis, that it was named the capital of La Gaulle. Very quickly, it became one of the largest cities in Europe. The nerve center of international trade and business of the kingdom, the financial and political development of the city does not stop. For almost a millennium, the kings will not stop erecting the most beautiful palaces, the most beautiful halls, the most beautiful cathedrals. In 1546, François 1er ordered the construction of the Louvre. The reputation of the city is then more to do. Its inhabitants are educated, their wealth only increases. From year to year, we see the most beautiful outfits there, we meet the most eminent philosophers and the most famous artists, we hold the biggest parties there and we will make the most significant revolutions. For centuries to come, despite wars, famines, revolutions, its grandeur will make the whole world talk and will always attract more new workers, new revelers, new residents. Till today. Until we kill his freedom, his party and his art, in short, everything that made up his essence.
All my friends are gone, my heart has moved.
Since the Covid crisis, it's been a stampede to escape from Paris. It goes all over the place. In one year I have seen (in addition to myself, of course) no less than thirty of my Parisian acquaintances flee to the provinces or abroad. Everyone is cracking up. Everyone wants to hang out. And as soon as possible. If I have three or four friends who joined me in Marseille, others chose Bordeaux, Biarritz or the north. And there are also the brave who have left the continent altogether for the West Indies, Reunion or Mexico. It's very simple, 80% of my friends have either left or plan to do so. The first to have been able to materialize their wishes were those coming from the catering and art sectors or exercising a liberal profession. The others, the unlucky ones stuck with their work, take their troubles patiently, but don't think less of it. As for me, I thank heaven every day for having been able to escape several months ago.
Paris is experiencing a massive exodus, middle class and youth in mind.
If since 2011, well before the Covid, therefore, Paris already had, on average, 12,000 fewer inhabitants per year, this year the decline is accelerating. If before the Covid, around 8% of Parisians concretely expressed the wish to leave, today, they would be 15%, i.e. a good of around 70% after Covid. (source: https://www.lefigaro.fr/economie/). If we do not yet have the departure figures for 2021, it is therefore a safe bet that it will greatly exceed the usual 12,000. A small clue is given to us by national education. In Paris the classes have emptied. 6,000 schoolchildren did not return last September. Or 5% drop in attendance in Paris, all arrondissements combined. This is unheard of.
According to Les Echos, it would be the executives who would suffer the most from their environment. Since 8 out of 10 of them say they are ready to leave the capital as soon as possible. In March 2021, there were actually 1/5 of executives who took the plunge, looking for other job offers in the provinces. (source: Employment Framework study for https://start.lesechos.fr/).
The reasons for this disenchantment.
But then why such a strong and sudden acceleration of this rate of departures? Oh, well, it's clear, it's the Covid of course, well rather the management of the Covid by our politicians.
Already, before, if we want to be completely honest, it was starting to get Paris drunk, all the same. In addition to the exorbitant price of rents, shopping and outings, there were fines for anything and everything, all the time. Parking, bus lane, forgotten metro ticket or Navigo Pass, speed cameras, discarded cigarette butts, nocturnal noise and so on.. everything was a matter of puncturing you. But still, if this permanent control had brought us more security, well then we might not have complained so much, but NENNI. There were a lot of people to swing you or take your money, but when you were attacked in the subway at midnight, oh well, there was no one left. Ah, the Parisian mentality, in which it's good to swing your neighbor when he puts on the music a little too loud but in which you don't have the courage to save a girl who is being raped. Then there was the work culture too, very specific to the city. If you had the misfortune to want to respect your legal hours, you were frowned upon. If you had the misfortune to be too nice to customers, you were frowned upon. If you had the misfortune to say that your boss spoke to you like a dog, you were looked down upon. In short, you were badly seen, what. This atmosphere that wasn't only felt at work, by the way. Ah, how nice it was to see everyone laughing all the time, complaining, attacking each other, judging each other or pushing each other on the escalators because it wasn't going fast enough. And then the attacks, and then the disgusting metro, and then the rats, and then the crowded and constantly late RER trains, and then the overcrowding, and then the traffic jams, and then the bad weather, and then the pollution, and then the depression. Anyway, yeah, even before Covid, Paris was already not a dream.
BUT, all that was compensated by the freedom, the party, the art, the culture, the meetings and the conviviality that you could find when you went out. And frankly, it was well worth going through everything else. I never felt better than in Paris, dancing to techno that you hear nowhere else, surrounded by my freaks that I had taken so long to find. And just that, yes that, that kept me going. And I don't think I'm the only one.
Except that since the Covid there's nothing of all that and the rest has gotten worse. Clubs, museums, concert halls have closed. And even when some stuff reopened it was never the same. Today, you no longer have the right to go to an exhibition without having reserved, and that's if you're lucky and it's not already full because of the gauges. The teufs, they are very often canceled by the prefecture without any real valid reason, just because it is on the youth that we like to hit first. And when they're on, you're not having fun anyway, since you're either not allowed to stand or the music is constantly controlled. Stress, fear and depression are felt everywhere. You have to wear the mask constantly, even outside, or in the subway in which you can no longer breathe. Didier Lallement, the prefect, so dear to my heart, made the police into rabid watchdogs and no longer peacekeepers. All demonstrations are reprimanded, restaurants, cafes are constantly checked, you no longer have the right to party at home, even when it's legal, because they always find a way to arrest you for endangering you. You no longer have the right to meet more than ten anywhere without being bludgeoned, and even the parks are evacuated. In short, you no longer have the right to anything. Other than walking your dog, staying home and keeping your mouth shut.
So yeah, Paris before Covid was already not all rosy, but since the crisis your environment has become a 9 square meter prison. You surprise me that everyone is leaving.
The solution is elsewhere
And bah here is their plan worked, Paris empties because it does not make any more dream. You're going to tell me, it's good, it was overcrowded. Except that it does not empty equitably, and that will only dig, in the long term, greater inequalities. Because if the young professionals, the artists and the families are blocked, the old reactionaries, the big fortunes and the enarques, they are there and intend to stay there, with their privileges and their well-guarded city. And unfortunately for them, the poor can't move. What will become of this city if only the very rich and the very poor remain? What will she look like? What attractiveness will it continue to have without the taxes of the middle class and without the creations of youth and artists? Without the special atmosphere created by this heterogeneous population? Will tourists want to come just to be extorted? Personally, it doesn't make me want to go back. It's such a shame, this city was so beautiful even in its imperfections, but I'm not sure it will regain its luster one day, I have the impression that something has broken. Even if I miss Paris as it was and I will come back to see my friends who stay there and party there, from time to time, I am far from certain to return one day to live there. Because I don't think we can then reverse the vicious circle, at least not for decades. On the other hand, I am sure of one thing: the attractiveness will shift and the other cities will benefit from it.