It took me a while to realize that some of the most dreadfully over-motorized squares and circles in Paris were at places where three or four districts (arrondissements) come together.
The Arch of Triumph, for instance, is at the place where the 8th, 16th and 17th arrondissements come together. The Place de la Bastille is at the meeting point of the 3rd, 4th, 11th and 12th arrondissements. The Place de Clichy is where the 8th, 9th, 17th and 18th arrondissements come together. And the Place de la République is where the 3rd, 10th and 11th arrondissements meet up.
This is actually quite logical, since these are places where major streets cross each other, but a side effect is that it is hard to find accident statistics for these squares, since the statistics are divided up by arrondissement, thus contributing to the urban legend that there are hardly any accidents in these vast spaces where cars careen around wildly at high speeds with little semblance of order.
Thus far the mayor and the city council have not worked up the nerve to re-allocate the space and calm the traffic at the Arch of Triumph, which is in the conservative-dominated western half of the city, but they have started working on the Place de la Bastille and have made some improvements at the Place de Clichy.
The most dramatic improvements thus far are here at the Place de la République (also known to the locals as ‘Répu’), where they have rearranged the entire square, banning motor vehicles from the center and freeing up large amounts of space for pedestrians and cyclists.
For nearly a century, most of this space around the monument was reserved for motor vehicles. Now motor traffic has been routed around the south side of the square, and the center is available for pedestrians, cyclists and events. On the right in my photo, a temporary stage has been set up for three evenings of outdoor concerts.
While the redevelopment was going on, information panels were set up at various places around the square showing how the space was being rearranged.
My photos in this post are from 2013. I revised the text in 2018.
See also: The triumph of cars over people at the Arch of Triumph in Paris.