Paris has become an absurdly impractical city, says Tahar Ben Jelloun in Le Point. The City Hall has fiddled with the capital’s big thoroughfares, such as Place de la Bastille and Boulevard du Montparnasse, creating confusing, gridlocked traffic systems. Unions have embarked on their usual summer tradition of causing travel chaos that prevents people leaving for their holidays. Airports have become roiling “souks” where most flights are delayed or cancelled. At Orly, Paris’s second-largest airport, I had to queue for 57 minutes to get a taxi, and the driver told me that “he too had been waiting in a parking lot for hours”.
Public transport is just as bad. Buses, another victim of the City Hall’s ineptitude, often stop halfway along their routes. On the Metro, “a recorded voice in several languages warns you that there are pickpockets in the cars”. People are tired by the heat; aggression is in the air. Restaurants are understaffed, quality is down and prices are up. Paris “is no longer a party”: the most beautiful city in the world is “mistreated, unloved, poorly managed”. What’s extraordinary is that, despite all this inconvenience and “bad humour”, millions of tourists continue to flock to it.