Paris and the 15-minute City concept

By Chris Champion posted 07-05-2021 18:27


What if Parisians, old and young, could enjoy most things just at their doorstep!

By Maurice BARTH: Europe and International Officer, AITF (French Territorial Engineers Association)

And Sonia BLOND BUTLEN: Regional President Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes AITF and Treasurer, Association “Dirigeantes et Territoires -DT”

The 15-minute City, says Carlos Moreno, Franco-Colombian academic co-author of this concept, “pushes for finding everything essential to life close to home: housing, work, care access, supplies, and learning and leisure activities”. All within at 15 minutes walk or 5 minutes by bike.

This concept requires breaking with the fragmented city and activities dependent on car or public transportation. It also refers to the "de-mobility" concept, which could reduce the climate impact of the French capital.

International inspiration

Melbourne and Ottawa have developed "15 or 20-minute neighbourhoods", just like the major cities of the C40, the "global network of cities for the climate", such as Milan, Montreal, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, etc. In Northern Europe, Copenhagen and Utrecht are also inspiring cities.

In France, the «20-minute neighbourhoods», initiated in Portland in the 2000s, inspired Rennes and Bordeaux.

The "Calm City” concept 

The “Calm City” meets the ecological, economic and social priorities and its model reveals the six themes of the quarter-hour city, through a fully polycentric and multi-service town.

In fact, Paris is both a world city and an east-west and north-south imbalanced city. It is necessary to rebalance the whole town over the long term, especially through measures for economy, housing and work. All inhabitants must have access to a "common set", based on the "15-minute city” model, through the transformation of its own places, around three key themes: school, culture and participatory democracy. 

The school, 'Capital' of the district

Paris wants to open up schoolyards to neighbourhoods, and also renovate and revegetate them ("courtyards as oases"), in order to welcome people, outside school time, for leisure activities, culture and sport. Paris wants to create pedestrian areas around the schools as well.

Bringing culture closer to the inhabitants

Local "artistic platforms" will bring culture closer to the inhabitants.

Finally, participatory democracy

Developing “Citizens' kiosks", i.e., local spaces where citizens can meet and help each other and speak with municipal officers or associations. 

“Sport and Social Clubs"

A single place for many activities for parents and children, free of charge, close to home, like sport, childcare or homework help.

At the same time, Paris will continue to develop sports activities on city streets and gardens.

The 15-minute City also means adapting shops

To strengthen the local shops and services network, Paris will promote local production and/or “short circuits”, thanks to the "Fabriquer à Paris" label (food trade, street markets, cultural gift shops, etc.).

The 15-minute City in response to the health crisis

The Covid-19 epidemic forced Parisian people to reduce their moves and therefore to find local solutions for basic needs. Temporary bike paths and ephemeral terraces were quick solutions. Elderly, disabled or isolated people benefited from the local solidarity networks, set up during the confinement on the scale of the neighbourhood.

Paris - the city of proximity, also means, against Covid, strengthening inner-city medicine, providing close support to patients and preventing the risk of contamination.

Thus, the concept of a 15-minute City would not only promote the well-being of city dwellers but also provide a response to the health and climate challenges ahead.

A concept for the whole Paris

Much remains to be done, gradually, starting with "federating political will to implement this big bang of proximity". Then, it will require administrative and financial tools to encourage a policy, based on effective decentralization: each district could have its own "quarter-hour city" deputy mayor. Finally, we need to create a dynamic with all the actors concerned, to diversify and encourage functional diversity everywhere.


By Maurice BARTH: Europe and International Officer, AITF (French Territorial Engineers Association)

And Sonia BLOND BUTLEN: Regional President Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes AITF and Treasurer, Association “Dirigeantes et Territoires -DT”


Article inspiré de ceux de Marie Konstantinovitch / Ville de Paris et du chercheur Carlos Moreno –

Resumed by Maurice Barth; Translation by Sonia Blond Butlen

Video Source: World Economic Forum. Paris is planning to become a ’15-minute city’ where everything you need is within a 15-minute radius on foot or bike. The aim is to cut car use, resulting in fewer CO2 emissions and cleaner air.