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HomeNewsWhy the Paris périphérique is greater than only a ringroad

Why the Paris périphérique is greater than only a ringroad

The Boulevard Périphérique – popularly recognized merely as le périph – is the 35km ringroad that surrounds Paris – to not be confused with the A86, which is the exterior ringroad (beltway).

As with many main metropolis ringroads (assume London’s M25) it’s not probably the most enjoyable driving expertise as visitors is regularly extraordinarily heavy, particularly at peak occasions like rush hour or the beginning of the college holidays. The French rule of priorité à droite additionally applies on the périph, making it a selected problem for overseas drivers.

The crimson line denoting the confines of Paris nearly precisely follows the route of the périphérique, with two detours to carry the Bois de Vincennes and the Bois de Boulogne into the town. Map: Google

However it’s not the frequent visitors jams, shunts and appalling air pollution ranges that distinguish the périph from different roads – it’s its function because the Paris ‘frontier’.

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Metropolis boundaries

In addition to bringing visitors out and in of the town, the highway additionally acts as a territory marker – something contained in the périphérique is Paris, areas outdoors will not be the town correct however are simply a part of the higher Paris area of Île de France.

Due to this fact Paris Charles de Gaulle airport isn’t in Paris, neither is French nationwide stadium Stade de France, the Paris enterprise district of La Défense or Disneyland Paris (though that final one is honest sufficient, as a result of it’s truly round 40km outdoors Paris).

Likewise individuals who dwell within the suburbs are technically not Parisians however Franciliens/Franciliennes – or inhabitants of the Île-de-France area.

The comparatively small confines of the périph additionally clarify a number of the extra shocking statistics about Paris – reminiscent of the truth that its inhabitants is simply 2.1 million, in comparison with London with 8.9 million, Berlin with 3.6 million or Madrid with 3.2 million.

Likewise Paris is 105 km sq. – and you’ll stroll throughout your entire metropolis from east to west in simply over two hours – whereas Madrid registers 604 km sq, Berlin at 891 km sq and London at a whopping 1,572 km sq..

Whereas London is undoubtedly a bigger metropolis, each the world and inhabitants of Paris come rather more consistent with different European capitals when you embrace the interior suburbs.

The barrier is in place politically too, in order that the authority of the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, stretches solely so far as the périph, whereas the départements that make up the suburbs elect their very own Préfets and mayors. There may be some crossover, nonetheless, the general public transport community Île de France Mobilities is organised on a region-wide foundation, whereas the Paris police drive covers each the town and its suburbs. 


Surrounding Paris are the three départements that make up the interior suburbs – referred to as the petite couronne (little crown) – Seine-Saint-Denis, Hauts-de-Seine and Val-de-Marne.

Between them they’ve a inhabitants a 4.5 million folks, so if we add them to Paris we get a inhabitants of 6.6 million, rather more consistent with different European capitals. Likewise their mixed space of 657 km sq carry Paris and its suburbs to a complete space of 762 km sq.

The 8 départements that make up the higher Paris Île de France area – Paris itself and the three départements of the ‘petite couronne’ and the 4 bigger départements that make up the outer suburbs. Map:

Suburbs in French are referred to as banlieues and people dwell there banlieusards

The interior suburbs, that are largely included in to Metro community, are the place quite a lot of the individuals who work in Paris truly dwell – particularly those that do the low-paid however important jobs reminiscent of staffing the capital’s transport networks, cleansing the streets and operating supermarkets. 

Map exhibiting Paris Metro, tram and RER routes within the metropolis and interior suburbs. Map: RATP

The suburbs are usually extra spacious with cheaper property costs so the town has seen a decade-long pattern of individuals shifting out of central Paris to the suburbs. Over the previous 10 years the inhabitants of Paris has fallen by 120,000 – however of each 10 individuals who moved out of the town, six solely went so far as the suburbs. 

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Transferring additional out of the town are the 4 départements that make up the outer suburbs and higher Paris area of Île de France; Essonne, Yvelines, Seine-et-Marne and Val d’Oise. These are bigger although a lot much less densely populated.

Social barrier

However this isn’t sufficient to clarify by itself why the périphérique is considered a ‘social barrier’ – and that’s to do with wealth and earnings. 

The priciest property is the Paris space is within the metropolis centre – significantly within the central 4 arrondissements that run alongside the River Seine by central Paris, the place you’re prone to be near the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe or each.

Even a reasonably modest sized condominium within the metropolis centre will set you again over €1 million, and more and more locals are being priced out of the market – in arrondissements 1-4, 30 p.c of housing isn’t in full-time occupation. Most of them are as an alternative second houses for rich foreigners.

Common property costs per sq. metre in Paris, as of September 2020. Map: WikiCommons

In a really broad generalisation, property costs fall the additional away from the town centre you get, after which drop sharply as quickly as you cross the peripherique. And that is cited as the primary motive for folks, particularly households with younger youngsters, leaving Paris for the ‘burbs.

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Social inequality

The suburbs are usually cheaper locations to dwell, each when it comes to property costs and in different on a regular basis objects like groceries or having a meal or drinks in a café or bar, however earnings and different points fluctuate extensively between suburbs.

Some suburbs – reminiscent of Levallois-Perret and Neuilly-sur-Seine – are extraordinarily rich and have for generations been the house of the well-off and socially choose households of Paris, whereas others – reminiscent of Montfermeil and Bondy – are characterised by excessive ranges of poverty, crime and social deprivation.

To very broadly generalise, the western Paris suburbs are nicely off, whereas the areas to the east and – significantly – the north are poor (and there’s a historic motive for this – it was initially to do with the way in which the wind blew smoke from factories, in order that the poorer areas have been to the east which is downwind).  

The département of Seine-Saint-Denis, house to the interior suburbs to the north-east of Paris, often comes high in indicators for poverty, crime and ill-health and likewise has a excessive variety of immigrants and refugees.

It’s amongst these suburbs that bother regularly flares, such because the riots of 2005 and 2017 which supplies rise to the fame of the northern suburbs as ‘ghettos’ of crime and poverty. There are undoubtedly locations which have extreme social deprivation, excessive crime charges and a really tense relationship between police and locals – movies reminiscent of La Haine and Les Misérables (directed by Montfermeil native Ladj Ly) discover these points in additional element.

And their proximity to Paris will increase the distinction – it’s 22km (a few 1hr 20 minute cycle trip) from the president’s Elysée Palace within the coronary heart of historic Paris to the notoriously powerful suburb of Montfermeil, however the two locations are worlds aside. 

Nevertheless, it’s essential to do not forget that not all of Seine-Saint-Denis has these issues and as extra households depart Paris, increasingly more suburban areas have gotten gentrified and/or fashionable. The northern suburb of Pantin and the japanese space of Montreuil are amongst these ‘bobo‘ (hipster) suburbs.


Nonetheless, there stays an perspective amongst sure Parisians, particularly older ones, that to cross the périph means venturing into the ‘wild west’ of medication, weapons and gangs.

This miserable and unimaginative trope will be seen in dozens of French movies and TV exhibits, the place characters both by no means cross the rinrgoad in any respect, or enterprise into the suburbs solely to purchase medicine (FYI medicine are additionally on sale in Paris).

In the meantime banlieusard, which merely means an individual who lives within the suburbs, has taken on a damaging connotation of is is regularly used to explain people who find themselves unemployed and/or concerned in low-level criminality. The département variety of Seine-Saint-Denis – neuf trois – can be typically utilized in a perjorative approach.



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