Parisians say 'oui' to car-free Sundays

People thronging the Champs Elysees Avenue on Sunday, as the French capital's most famous avenue went car-free for a day, in the first instalment of a monthly effort to tackle pollution in Paris.

The sight of cars thundering down Paris' most famous boulevard was replaced by people strolling, cycling and taking selfies in the sun.

The event was hailed as a resounding success by Parisians and tourists alike on the 2km-long avenue leading to the Arc de Triomphe.

"Oh la la. Look at that, it's magnificent," said a resident who lives just off the Champs Elysees, as he got his first look at the thousands of people walking where, normally, cars and motorbikes would be thronging the road.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has ordered that Sunday's experience on the Champs Elysees be repeated on the first Sunday of every month, partly to "bring Parisians back to this emblematic place which belongs to them" and partly to reduce pollution.

In Singapore, the Civic District and parts of the Central Business District are closed to traffic on the last Sunday of each month till July, in a pilot trial to see if roads in some areas can be closed on a regular basis on weekends for sports and community activities.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2016, with the headline 'Parisians say 'oui' to car-free Sundays'. Print Edition | Subscribe