Monday, 20 May 2013

Parisianius Exteriorous

Local Park @ Rue Croix Nivert, 15e
Le Motte Piquette market: efficient use of space
 I can't say factually whether or not people in Paris are outside more often than those in North American cities, there is a much higher population density,  than say in Toronto.
20,741 people/ km sq. in Paris [Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques] whereas Toronto (not including GTA) has a pop. density of 4,149.5 persons/ square kilometre. [Stats Canada]. Which may make it seem like people are outside more often merely because there are more people in a smaller space. This extreme density can be explained by the simple fact that apartments are smaller, families live almost exclusively in apartments - sorry Toronto councillors, families CAN live in flats.

Famous Jardin de Luxembourg, near the Senate

Courtyard in the Medieval Sorbonne campus

Why are they outside? Socially, Parisians do something interesting for leisure that we once did in Canada: they walk. I can remember going for after-dinner walks with my parents or grandparents as a boy, but now it is a rare occasion. On even a moderately nice day it seems that every Parisian flocks to the nearest park, garden, public square, or just to the street to walk. Perhaps like myself they're just trying to get out and stretch their legs because of the crowded apartment sizes (9m2-15m2 is average for singles and couples); but I think there is another reason for it. The people walk because it is enjoyable: the architecture, the street layout, the mixture of residential, commercial, industrial, public space, and educational institutes (see Sorbonne courtyard below). In most Canadian streets in small and large cities alike, there simply is nothing to see when you walk. Most Parisians I have met are eager to come to Canada, it may be a polite gesture, but there is a reason for it: they want to witness our marvelous natural habitats. This is good, we are known for our nature, but most definitely are not known for incredible city life; more up-to-date folks know of Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, but a large number of people can't name any Canadian cities. Perhaps if they were more enjoyable to be in, more welcoming for walking, and provided more things to see, our cities names' will be more globally recognizable. In the meantime we can all get out on a day off, enjoy some sun or rain, and see what's around our neighborhoods - who knows maybe you'll be surprised.

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