We've all been there. You're posting up at a café, elbow deep in baguettes, enjoying the scenery -- when a sputtering, honking diesel engine crashes the scene, distracting your people-watching and polluting your ear drums. If only we could make every car vanish, just for one day, right?
In an effort to give Parisians (and American tourists in berets, pretending to be Parisians) a taste of life without the noise, smog, and overall miasma of motor vehicles, the French capital is banning all cars from the streets on September 27th. This unprecedented move has been coined A Day Without Cars, designed to show the people of Paris what a city sans cars would look like, and hopefully inspire citizens around the world to use less motor transportation in their day-to-day lives. This move is another measure intended to counteract France's increasingly bothersome pollution debacle.
The first through seventh arrondissements, along with heavily congested tourist areas like the Champs Élysées and Eiffel Tower, will participate in the experiment, and several cities around the world, including Montreal and Mexico City, have plans to follow suit. It would be cool if New York City attempted a similar effort, but here's the problem: no one even drives in New York. There's too much traffic.
At any rate, If you happen to be in Paris at the end of September, and suspect an automotive apocalypse, don't be alarmed: all the cars are gone for a (symbolic) reason, so enjoy the peace and quiet while you explore Paris by foot or bike. Hopefully, they never come back.