Paris to ban tourist buses from the city centre

Paris aims to ban tourist buses from the city centre to spur visitors to walk, cycle or take public transport, tackling complaints about nuisances caused by mass tourism, the French capital's deputy Mayor for tourism said.

The city hall's Jean-Francois Martins said they were concerned about the influx of tourist buses, due to pollutive diesel engines and the obstruction of traffic that it causes on main roads.

"They take up space, they obstruct the roads, sometimes they park in an unruly manner, and they are part of why traffic gets clogged," Martins said.

Paris is crisscrossed by dozens of hop-on, hop-off double-decker buses that shuttle tourists between the main monuments, as well as international tourist coaches that bring in organised groups and budget travellers from all over Europe.

The city is awaiting new legislation to reduce bus traffic and would put in place parking spots outside the city so that buses no longer drive into the centre. As for those who come into the centre, buses must park only at designated spots, from which tourists can walk to the sites, Martins said.

Tourists ride in an open-air double-decker bus past the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Tourists ride in an open-air double-decker bus past the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Photo credit: Reuters

France's new law on mobility will give local authorities more powers to regulate local traffic and new transport options such as rented bicycles and electric scooters. The city hall has encouraged tour guides to adapt by developing guided bicycle tours, or walking tours with headphones.

But a group of American tourists said the size of Paris was overwhelming, and that they joined an organised tour to get around more easily.

"I think you'd need to offer some sort of smaller bus that we could take for the tour because it's too large to walk and especially some of the older folks would not be able to walk that distance," said a tourist from Minnesota, Nancy Bates.

Last year, tourist arrivals in Paris and the Ile-de-France region around it set a record of 50 million people, up from 48 million in 2017, despite the sometimes violent 'yellow vest' protests against the government which began last November.

France is the world's most visited country, receiving a record 89.4 million visitors last year, up from 86.9 million in 2017.