Antonio Torres del Cerro |
“All families that have more than one child automatically want to leave,” Frédéric Benoist du Sablon stated in statements to EFE. This 43-year-old Parisian, married and the father of two girls, moved to Bordeaux in 2021, two hours by high-speed train from the capital.
Like the Benoist du Sablon family there are thousands a year, bound for cities like Nantes or La Rochelle (west) or the Parisian periphery. They are looking for a more spacious home for an affordable amount (currently the average price per Parisian square meter is around 10,000 euros), more green spaces and less pollution.
The covid and the possibility of teleworking have accelerated this movement. “I work for a production company and I come here once every two weeks,” says the new Bordeaux resident, very satisfied with the change.
Between 2014 and 2020 (the last period analyzed by the National Institute of Statistics), Paris has decreased by 3.4% of its population. Currently, there are 2.14 million inhabitants who officially reside in the densest city in Europe (about 20,000 per square kilometer).
According to the demographer Jean-François Dumont, it is not only the price of housing, something that is not new, which encourages people to leave the French capital. Although the statistics do not point to a resurgence in the last two years (marked by covid restrictions), the feeling of insecurity among Parisians is increasingly pressing.
“They consider that there are more and more crimes and, it is increasingly difficult to go out in certain neighborhoods, there are policemen who accompany mothers and children to some schools (in neighborhoods in the north of Paris plagued by crack trafficking),” Dumont asserts.
Added to this is the general drop in fertility, “the deterioration” of public transport, especially subways and suburban trains, and a promotion, by the Anne Hidalgo City Council, of the electric scooter that “has caused a good number of accidents” and cycle lanes, which “clog” road traffic.
“The city is less appreciated now than 20 years ago, as soon as they can, people leave,” says Dumont.
Accused of aggravating the depopulation and gentrification of the city, Hidalgo does not understand the drop in inhabitants as an isolated phenomenon.
“This decrease in inhabitants is a national trend, more visible in large cities because people need space,” the councilor justified herself in a recent interview in Le Parisien, in which she recognized that the French capital “has always been a transit and of people residing on a rental basis.
“A Home Ownership for Retirement”
Although the number of social housing in Paris, normally rented, is high (25% of the entire floor) and there is a ceiling for rents on the free market, many middle-class families seek to own a flat.
“We would like to own and enjoy more space with a garden for our daughter. Having your own home is also important with a view to retirement, because our income will fall,” Emmanuel G., a civil servant and resident of eastern Paris, told EFE.
With his 5-year-old daughter and his wife, they long to go to Brittany or to the outskirts of Paris. In fact, those known as Banlieue (hundreds of satellite towns) are the favorite destination for those who leave the capital. The metropolitan area of Paris, estimated at about 10 million, already exceeds the population of the city on the Seine by five times.
Another worrying effect of the Parisian exodus is felt in schools. Between 2020 and 2022, the city has lost some 10,000 students up to the age of 12, around 4% of enrolled students of that age.