Air pollution in Paris has hit threatening levels and is over 80 percent higher than in London and Berlin. As a sunny spell shines over Western Europe, the city of love has been forced to curb road speeds and offer free public transport.
Charges were also waived for the city's pioneering bicycle and electric car-sharing schemes this week as a visible haze hung over the streets of the French capital.
European Environment Agency (EEA) figures for Thursday showed there was 147 micrograms of particulate matter (PM) per cubic meter of air in Paris compared to 114 in Brussels, 104 in Amsterdam, 81 in Berlin and 79.7 in London.
Background pollution, which is the outdoor air quality breathed by the average citizen, topped the 100 maximum measurable index level in the French capital on Thursday, according to data from pollution watchdog airqualitynow.eu. This makes the Paris the only European capital in the "very high" level zone. The index stood at 81 in London, 76 in Berlin and 61 in Madrid.
France will introduce driving restrictions in Paris on Monday to tackle dangerous pollution levels, the first such ban in twenty years, as politicians try to get rid of health-threatening smog days before municipal elections.
Paris, before the smog and during the smog. pic.twitter.com/28rjwUPhB4— Chris Schiffhauer (@PaulyGlott) March 16, 2014
Saw the Paris smog myself when I was there in January. Just terrible. pic.twitter.com/goKH8oBM10— Leslie Yap (@lesyap) March 16, 2014
SMOG LA DEFENSE. PARIS. FRANCE pic.twitter.com/SzO90X8smy— Jerome Pichon (@pichon_jerome) March 14, 2014