Paris Smog Is Breathtaking. Really. Breathtaking.
Posted by Kelsey Merkel
This post was written by DGC’s 2015 Rising Star, Account Director Kelsey Merkel. Recognizing her stellar work and contriubtions to the agency, Kelsey was sent by DGC to London to spend time with our strategic partner Eulogy!
Paris is known as the City of Lights but these days it’s hard to see anything through the smog of pollution.
The weather apps on our phones told us it was sunny, but we couldn’t see the sun. The view from atop the Eiffel Tower was limited to say the least. On Saturday, the city’s pollution index hit seven (out of a possible 10), a number considered dangerous, according to AirParis, which monitors smog levels for the French government.
My colleague, Megan Sweat, and I were in Paris this past weekend, before heading to London to spend a work week at our sister agency, Eulogy! and attend Advertising Week Europe.
Exploring all the sights, sounds and smells that Paris had to offer was amazing. Reality hit when we tried to board the Paris metro from the Champs Elysees and couldn’t figure out how to use our cards (despite having done so multiple times before). After several attempts to pay to ride the metro, we learned that underground transportation was free for all passengers for the weekend.
On Friday afternoon, French officials declared an emergency ban on most cars to curb heavy pollution and the overwhelming gray smog that covered the city for days. By Monday, cars carrying three or more passengers, those with odd-number license plates, and “clean” or hybrid cars were permitted, and all had to observe a 20km speed limit. Public transit became the best alternative.
Social media played a roll in the decision as the ban sparked a political debate between the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo and the socialist ecology minister – much of it carried out on social networks. While the ecology minister did end up agreeing to a ban, he made sure to accuse Hidalgo of failing to have a “real transport policy” to deal with the pollution problem.
After the ban was implemented, Hidalgo tweeted on Monday that traffic already was down by around 40 percent. This was only the third time since 1997 the city authorities have resorted to such emergency measures.
Needless to say it was an interesting few days to be in Paris for the first time, but Megan and I didn’t particularly mind saving on our metro fare this weekend.
Stay tuned for highlights from our week in London!