Parisien Social and Economical Classes
As someone who has been to Paris and has seen the very incredible sights contrasted with the extreme poverty in the city, I was intrigued when I was asked to write about the social and economical classes in Paris. Although the system is complex, it is still set up similarly to those of other European countries. One of the main aspects to note about the classes and how the city is set up is that the divide between the rich and the poor is incredibly large. Paris is actually one of the most expensive cities in the world but is also the home to 28,000 homeless people. The poverty rate is around 14% but when you find yourself in some of the poorer neighborhoods, you can see poverty rates jump to over 40%.
One of the biggest causes of these statistics is geography. In an article off of aljazeera.com, a man named Nicolas was interviewed about his life on the streets. “”In the street, you really feel that the rich and the poor don’t live in the same place or in the same manner. There are neighborhoods where the people look down at you, disgusted,” explained Nicolas. “For them, you are nothing. If they have a dog, the dog is better than you.” Reading this was just heartbreaking but it also made me want to dig deeper into why this was and what types of neighborhoods looked more like the ones you see on the brochures.
The northern and eastern parts of Paris used to house the majority of the working class but because of gentrification, pushing those who cannot afford the new houses being built out of the area, people are falling into poverty more and more. The cost of living rising steadily and the lack of housing available has caused the homeless population to rise by 84% in 10 years. One of the poorest places in France is a place called le Sevran and is located in the northeast of Paris. Here in Sevran, drug trafficking is one of the main sources of money circulation and is also how a lot of teens and adults make a living. You will find over 70 different nationalities, many different faiths and people from the poorest places in Africa, Italy and Spain who have recently migrated to France.
In contrast, we have the 6th and 7th arrondissement, or district, in Paris where one can find places like the Eiffel Tower. The 6th arrondissement, Saint Germain-des-Pres, is where famous names like Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Oscar Wilde lived and costs about $15,000 USD per square meter to buy a home. This arrondissement was established as the center of intellectual thought. Along with the 6th, the 7th arrondissement is home to the Eiffel Tower and costs about $14,000 USD per square meter to buy a home. Upper class and French nobility normally stay here. It is also the home to les Invalides, a complex of buildings containing museums, monuments and the burial sites for France’s war heroes.