Paris equals boulevard. Certainly the French city can boast other symbols of modernity, from the Metro to the Eiffel Tower, but no one has embodied its new face like the great boulevards; recurring motif of the Impressionists, countless books and films, they are the first equipped public space: wide sidewalks, street lamps, furnishings, long tree-lined rows become the sign that identifies the beating heart of urban life, its animated crowd and that myriad of casual relationships that feed its sociality.
For years bent to the needs of vehicular traffic alone, today the boulevards are once again the protagonists of a different way of living in the contemporary city: fewer cars and less parking to leave more space for bikes and pedestrians, but above all for greenery. Before other capitals, Paris has bet on a healthier lifestyle, investing heavily in clean and collective transport, transforming every small abandoned area into neighborhood gardens, vegetable gardens and playgrounds; this is what Barcelona and, to another extent, New York are doing, giving back to its inhabitants the freedom to walk in the street, the joy of chatting on a bench in the sun or enjoying the coolness in the square behind the house. From historic gardens to suburban parks, from escarpments to courtyards, from lakes to the Seine, the urban landscape is populated with trees and hedges, creepers and flowerbeds. This is not just an aesthetic requirement: the city adapts to climate change. Plants and shrubs increase protection from direct sunlight. Naked surfaces, unable to retain rainwater, are reduced. Temperature conditions vary, favouring breezes and the dispersion of dust and air pollutants. And it's not just a question of quantity: in Bercy as in Montparnasse, vineyards reappear, recovering ancient seeds of forgotten fruits.