Being a North American resident, it really makes me wonder what it would take to build political will for these types of projects on this side of the ocean. In San Francisco, closing even one part of one street to auto traffic is something that seems to be impossible — even for projects that _should_ be relatively uncontentious like closing some of the highways through Golden Gate Park, making the most pedestrian heavy parts of famous streets like Haight, Castro, or Lombard pedestrian-only, or taking private cars off Market Street. And quite sadly, SF is considered to be a walking-friendly city relative to others on the continent.
It's nice that someone is acting as a guiding light for the rest of the world, especially when it's a city of Paris' fame/importance.
Fremont St (the Old Strip) is much more enjoyable than the new strip now, because they actually had the balls to pedestrianize the entire thing. It's a much more enjoyable experience; you can walk along at ground level, popping into whatever businesses you want while drinking your beer, and at no point do you have to take a bridge over a giant highway wasteland.
Just compare these two photos and consider which you'd rather walk around in as a pedestrian:
The traditional complaint I hear is that a random street in Los Angeles looks like https://goo.gl/maps/U7kg8VMV4FtDxQ838 whereas a random street in London looks like https://goo.gl/maps/nR1BJSgYEk5du5CN8 i.e. American cities being built with much lower population density.
That means, if you have one bus stop for every 400 residents or one metro station per 30,000 residents, Los Angeles residents have to walk a hell of a lot further to get to the bus stop or metro station.
Also, the "metro" is great but it can get crowded like any train can during peak. You gotta qualify what you mean by "unless you happen to be on the right line."
I used to walk from Sim Lin Square to Raffles, less than 1km, always regretted it.
Clarification would be if you didn't have to change. If it's a 10 minute taxi or 2 metro changes, I know which I do in SG. I commuted from Haugong via taxi for a month rather than take a bus/metro/bus
 not a US citizen but the legend says that cars are too deep into american culture
Streets are wide enough that you never feel stuck in a line, there are trees everywhere, and the wind from the ocean makes the air feel very clean.
The reason Paris is spending so much energy thinking about its organization is because it is ( and has always been) completely overcrowded with one of the highest population density in the world. For a city that’s almost 2 thousand years old, that’s an extremely difficult problem to tackle.
As a European that has visited both Paris and SF multiple times, Paris wins hands down...
Modern Paris has its problems, but for a pedestrian there's no comparison with SF.
(And let's not even get into the huge homeless/etc problem in SF)
There is really not much of the city that wasn't redone by Haussmann at the end of the 19th century. Even remnants of medieval Paris are few outside of the Marais.
Layers of dirt on beautiful buildings? They're several hundred years old.
Felt quite unsafe even in good neighborhoods? I spent all last week there, on foot, at all hours alone and never once felt unsafe. It occurs to me now that maybe that's my male privilege so apologies if that's not the case for you but Paris is the greatest city in the world as far as I'm concerned.
As a Parisian, I can sadly attest that the city is currently disgustingly dirty, that it has been getting worse and worse in the five years since I moved there and that London is indeed a lot cleaner.
Paris suffers from a lot of incivilities, very lax policing, the current mayor puting cleanliness as a non priority and extremely poor supervision of the existing cleaning crews.
It has become such a pain point for Parisian that cleanliness is likely to be the main issue of next year electoral campaign.
May be the non-touristy areas are also considered dirty by you, but I'm an American, where we treat public places like shit but make sure interiors and the entrances near parking is pretty and the rest of the fucking street is trash since no one other than me apparently walk it. To me, the "grime" I see seems normal if not a little nicer than any city in Ohio.
I have to admit that when I went back to Paris 2015, the one thing that struck me was the dirt on the buildings like "le Louvres"'s musueum façade on the Rivoli street. It looked almost black. I actually did not really notice when I lived there, maybe it worsen.
Also I agree with you that Paris is a dirty city and London (at least the tourist areas) is much cleaner. There are a lot of incivilities in France and cleaning services are not known for their efficency.
As for safety, I also agree even if I have read that there has been many knife or moped attacks in London recently.
The stones being dirty is another issue. A lot of white stone will get darken by car pollution really quickly and cleaning those is a never ending process until fossil fuel is completely banned. The speed at which the the stone will get dirty as the the price of cleaning it wihtout damaging it differs a lot depending on the type of stone. I know that around the Loire valley, cleaning tuffeau is a huge pain.
Talking about the Loire valley, I lived in Tours also and It's true that this is very difficult to clean, if I'm correct the best technique is to use a laser but it's slow and expensive.
Paris' current fiscal management is the worst the city has ever seen. The city's total debt grew from 1B euros in 2001 to 6B in 2018.
Most of the people who live in Paris proper enjoy the metro, multiple bike sharing and electrical scooter options, those who can't afford to live within city borders (which outnumber the Parisians 5-to-1) are forced to use the RER (light railway) or private cars.
The effects of the policies that reduce private traffic in the city proper extend far beyond the administrative borders, and the 2016 decision to ban cars from parts of the Seine banks has increased traffic dramatically outside of Paris, but damaging only people who don't vote for the mayor of Paris.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for a reduction in private vehicle use, but I think that a solution can only be found by integrating the whole region in a single administrative division and eliminating this notion of first and second class citizens of Paris.
RER is heavy rail - Ligne A's trunk shifts 50k pax/hour each direction. With, among other efforts, the extended Ligne E and Ligne 14, there are serious network upgrades on the way to meet the challenge.
Indeed the only people angry at how Paris is taking back public space from cars are those who insist on taking a personal car into Paris, which is puzzling stubbornness where there are so many other options.
I live in Courbevoie, outside Paris and cycle there daily - I couldn't be happier and I don't feel second class at all. Placemaking is the future: cities are living places, not car sinks.
Then most people who drive in Paris 1. don't need to (according to those drivers asked, 72% didn't really "need" to drive) 2. are not poor people (64% CSP+) 3. aren't driving for work (20% were professionals - that's mostly an answer to the sibling comment to yours though) 4. drive within Paris rather than from the periphery (50%)
Now, that study was made by the city of Paris so maybe it's biased, but I'm pretty sure there is some truth in it.
Parisians as a whole think of themselves a separate entity from the rest of France.
Who cares if you can't come to Paris by car because there are no buses or because it simply takes too long to get where you want to go via train?
I always thought that most Parisians were snobs, I guess I was correct.
When you're lucky enough to get a direct train in or out then it's OK. Unfortunately this rarely happens and the alternative is an unpredictable slog in a usually filthy and crowded train, which puckers away and waits for an unspecified time at stations somewhere out in the sticks.
From all major European airports conncetivity to CDG is just about the worst and - in terms of times - the most unpredictable.
And don't get me started on the airport itself, which makes Heathrow shine as a beacon of modernity, efficiency and class.
One of the things that struck me when I visited Paris was what felt like a lack of green spaces that you could actually enjoy. I find London much more pleasant because there are so many more parks you could go to cool off.
I enjoyed my visit to Paris, but I didn't particulalry like most of the city itself, it was clogged with traffic and was stifflingly hot. I can understand why so many Parisians try to get away from the city during the summer. Most of it certainly didn't feel particularly "romantic".
One park we went to had "keep off the grass" signs everywhere, so everyone was crammed into one strip of grass. It wasn't like the off-limit parts were particulalry special or anything, just grass with a few poorly tended flower, it just seemed to be an attitude of "look but don't touch". It was hot, dry and dusty. The London parks on the other hand are much more inviting to me, often less formal, geared towards people actually spending time in them, having a picnic/BBQ or playing games. And with the congestion charging, the traffic does seem to have improved a lot.
Of couse, not being a Parisian I might have just missed all the hidden parks, but we tried hard to find pleasant places, but struggled.
Probably not that much, you can pick it up through google maps: Paris has large parks & forests outside the city (boulogne, vincennes, meudon, …) but only a few very small parks within city limits (the largest green space is the Père-Lachaise cemetery), nothing like Regent's or Hyde's.
It's really flagrant using the satellite view at about the same zoom level (using the scale), it's as if london had no major park closer to city center than Hampstead (though both boulogne and vincennes are quite a bit larger than Hampstead, they're on the same scale as Richmond Park).
It might be a detail, but the two large parks (Boulogne and Vincennes) are within the city limits.
Also I don't know London very well, but from Google Maps I see almost no greenery in the center, while Paris' parks are maybe smaller but much more evenly distributed throughout the city.
Are you joking?
Regent's, Hyde, Kensington, Green, St James, Battersea, Burgess, Kennington, Coram's, Russel Square, Lincoln's Inn...
Look at all the green areas on the map.
Paris: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,2.3306852,14z / https://email@example.com,2.3322563,12.75z
London: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-0.1466301,14z / https://email@example.com,-0.1436204,12.75z
The parks in London just look larger and fewer, not very evenly distributed, to me.
It's one of the things I really appreciate when I go to London, there's always a park within walking distance or a short bus ride/tube trip.
Not that great an idea though, because of its width low on the ground it's quite hostile to sharing space with others, much more so than a bike or a scooter.
Sacré-Cœur is well worth the walk, and benefits from being up the hill, away from the traffic, and surrounded by greenery. Montmartre is definitely one of the nicer parts of Paris. I could have happily skipped most of the rest of the city, but MM was worth a wonder round.
Sadly, the area has also been diminished in recent years by all the security around the tower itself. While understandable given actual violence that has occurred there in the past, and even with efficient and professional security staff doing the checks, it can still feel like going into some sort of secure facility more than enjoying a world-famous landmark these days. If the redesign could also reduce the visual impact of the security measures, that would be a bonus.
That's what striked me the most a few years ago when I finally decided to go near the Eiffel Tower: when I was young, I remember going there and just going under the Eiffel Tower to sight-see. Nowadays, the security checkpoint put me off doing that, and the high transparent walls make the place feel like an enclave where I don't belong and should just peek from outside.
I just find it regrettable that the whole area around the base of the tower looks like a fortress these days. If they can move away from that feeling as part of this project, perhaps relocating essential access control measures underground as much as possible, that would be a pleasant improvement.
Compared to having a picnic in London, Paris' parks seemed really not designed for enjoyment, they seemed to be more about walking around and looking.
I disagree with that, there's enough places around Paris that are good-looking or relaxing that I don't feel the need to leave Paris on the week-end (at random: Paris Observatory park in Meudon, with a great view on Paris)
Perhaps it's just because I've grown up in the UK, surrounded by gothic and medievel buildings etc so a lot of Paris is just more of the same, but for me my weekend trip to Paris about 10 years ago ranks at the bottom of all my holidays. I found Berlin far more interesting and exciting than Paris. There are some lovely bits of Paris, but huge swathes of it are traffic stuffed concrete ovens during the summer. The Arc de Triomphe is surrounded by a 6 lane roundabout, which is fun to watch for a bit, but rather detracts from the ambiance of the site.
It's good for 5 minutes, or to see it once in your life, but it's one of the worst place to appreciate Paris / London.