One elderly Parisian told the Guardian that the lack of motors was "like a headache lifting." Some practiced yoga in the middle of the street or just enjoyed taking a deep breaths of fresh air. Alex Copin, who led the skateboarders on a tour of Paris, was also happy to see the open roads.
"It's just so nice to not have to practice this sport with exhaust pipes pumping out at us," He told the Guardian. "It's nice to have the road to ourselves in such a beautiful city." Without the city's infamous smog, Paris was brighter and cleaner than ever before. Many remarked on how the sky appeared to be a more vibrant blue than on days with cars. In fact, the day was an experiment prompted by rising air pollution. The problem in Paris is so bad, that for a few days in March of this year it was deemed the most polluted city in the world, beating even China's mega cities for the top spot.
The day without cars was not free from some well-earned criticism. Only 30 percent of the city was actually declared car-free, mostly in the center of town and near historic landmarks. Eventually cabs and buses were allowed to roam in much of the car-free zones. The ban on cars also only lasted from 11 am to 6 pm. While most streets were clear in the early morning hours, bicyclists were soon push aside to make way for traffic.
Still, the experiment showed what city life can be like without cars. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo certainly hopes Parisians enjoyed the city free of cars. She hope to extend car-free zones along the Seine and recently set the goal of making Paris completely diesel-free by 2020. France has the highest percentage of diesel cars in Europe and heavily subsides the fuel. The emissions cheating at Volkswagen is putting additional pressure on politicians to act on pollution problems.