Is Paris Dirtier Than New York? A Deep Dive Comparison

The cleanliness of major cities is a point of pride for locals and a potential culture shock for tourists. Paris and New York City, two of the world’s most visited destinations, both have reputations for being dirty. But which city is actually dirtier?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: While both cities could improve their cleanliness efforts, Paris likely edges out New York City for having more issues with litter, rodents, and complaints of unpleasant odors.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll do a deep dive comparing cleanliness levels in Paris and New York City. We’ll look at metrics like garbage collection rates, rat sightings, pollution, street smells, and resident satisfaction surveys. We’ll also explore some of the reasons behind cleanliness issues in each city.

Clean Streets and Sidewalks

Garbage Collection Frequency

One of the key factors in determining the cleanliness of a city is the frequency of garbage collection. In both Paris and New York, garbage is collected regularly to maintain cleanliness and sanitation.

In Paris, garbage collection takes place multiple times a week, with specific days allocated for different types of waste, such as recyclables, organic waste, and general garbage. Similarly, in New York, garbage is collected on a daily basis, ensuring that the streets and sidewalks remain clean and free of clutter.

Litter and Street Cleaning Efforts

Efforts to keep the streets and sidewalks clean vary between Paris and New York. Paris is known for its meticulous street cleaning efforts. The city invests in regular street sweeping and employs a large number of street cleaners to ensure cleanliness.

Additionally, Parisians have a strong sense of civic responsibility and are generally conscious of keeping their city clean. On the other hand, New York also places significant importance on street cleaning.

The city’s Department of Sanitation is responsible for regular street sweeping and litter removal, and there are strict penalties for littering. However, due to the sheer size and population of New York, maintaining cleanliness can sometimes be a challenge.

Dumpsters and Alleyways

The presence of dumpsters and alleyways can have an impact on the cleanliness of a city. In Paris, dumpsters are often located in designated areas, away from the main streets, reducing the visual impact of waste. Furthermore, Parisian alleyways are well-maintained and regularly cleaned.

In contrast, New York has a higher number of dumpsters located on the streets, which can sometimes contribute to a less clean appearance. Additionally, alleyways in New York can be less well-maintained, leading to potential litter accumulation.

However, it is important to note that efforts are continuously being made in both cities to address these challenges and improve cleanliness.

Overall Comparison

Aspect Paris New York
Garbage Collection Frequency Multiple times a week Daily
Litter and Street Cleaning Efforts Meticulous cleaning and strong civic responsibility Efforts in place, but challenges due to size
Dumpsters and Alleyways Designated areas for dumpsters, well-maintained alleyways More dumpsters on streets, some alleyways less well-maintained

Pest Control

Rat Sightings and Eradication Efforts

When it comes to pest control, both Paris and New York face their fair share of challenges. One common problem in urban areas is the presence of rats. In recent years, both cities have seen an increase in rat sightings, leading to concerns about public health and sanitation.

In New York, rat sightings have been a long-standing issue, with reports of rats scurrying through subway stations and parks. The city has implemented various eradication efforts, including increased trash management, rodent-resistant garbage bins, and targeted extermination programs.

Despite these efforts, the rat population remains a persistent problem.

Similarly, Paris has also faced its own rat issues. The city’s old sewer system and abundant food waste provide ideal conditions for rat infestations. To combat this, the Paris municipality has taken steps to reduce the rat population, such as placing bait stations and increasing inspections in public spaces.

However, the challenge of eradicating rats completely remains a work in progress.

It is important to note that both cities are actively working to address the rat problem, but the sheer size and density of urban areas make it a difficult task. Regular pest control measures, public awareness campaigns, and collaboration with residents are crucial in the ongoing battle against rats.

Policies on Public Urination/Defecation

Another aspect of pest control is the issue of public urination and defecation, which can contribute to unsanitary conditions and attract pests. In both Paris and New York, policies have been put in place to discourage such behavior and maintain cleanliness in public spaces.

New York City has a strict policy against public urination and defecation, with fines of up to $500 for offenders. The city has also installed public restrooms in high-traffic areas to provide an alternative for those in need.

Additionally, ongoing efforts are being made to improve access to clean, public facilities throughout the city.

In Paris, public urination has long been a concern, especially in popular tourist areas. The city has implemented various measures to address this issue, including the installation of public urinals known as “uritrottoirs” in select locations.

These innovative urinals are designed to compost waste and reduce odor, while also serving as a deterrent for public urination.

Both cities recognize the importance of maintaining cleanliness and ensuring proper sanitation. However, changing behaviors and enforcing regulations can be challenging, especially in crowded urban environments.

Ongoing education, public awareness campaigns, and the provision of adequate facilities are essential in tackling this issue effectively.

Air Quality and Odors

Industrial Pollution Regulations

When it comes to air quality and odors, both Paris and New York have implemented strict regulations to control industrial pollution. In Paris, the government has implemented measures to reduce emissions from factories and power plants, with a focus on transitioning to cleaner energy sources.

The city has also implemented initiatives to promote sustainable transportation and limit vehicle emissions. Similarly, New York City has been actively working to improve air quality by enforcing regulations on industrial emissions and promoting clean energy alternatives.

Both cities have made progress in reducing pollution levels and improving air quality, although challenges still remain.

Sewage and Drainage Systems

Efficient sewage and drainage systems play a crucial role in maintaining clean air and preventing unpleasant odors in urban areas. Paris has a well-established sewage and drainage system, including a network of underground tunnels that transport wastewater away from the city.

The system is regularly maintained and undergoes upgrades to ensure its effectiveness. In New York City, the Department of Environmental Protection oversees the management of wastewater and stormwater runoff.

The city has invested in infrastructure projects to improve its sewage and drainage systems, helping to mitigate odor-related issues.

Characteristic Smell Complaints

When comparing the characteristic smells of Paris and New York, it is essential to acknowledge that each city has its unique scents. Paris is often associated with the aroma of freshly baked bread, fragrant coffee, and the delicate scent of blooming flowers in its many parks and gardens.

On the other hand, New York City has its distinct smells, such as the aroma of hot dogs from street vendors, the scent of roasted coffee beans from local cafes, and the occasional whiff of garbage in certain areas.

While subjective, these characteristic smells contribute to the overall sensory experience of each city.

Public Perception and Satisfaction

Opinion Polls of Locals

When it comes to assessing the cleanliness of a city, the opinions of the locals play a crucial role. In Paris, opinion polls conducted among residents reveal a mixed bag of responses. Some Parisians believe that the city has made significant improvements in cleanliness over the years, while others express concerns about certain areas being poorly maintained.

It is important to note that perceptions can vary depending on the neighborhood one resides in. For instance, residents living in upscale areas like the Champs-Élysées may have a more positive perception compared to those living in less affluent areas.

According to a recent opinion poll conducted by Le Parisien, approximately 62% of Parisians believe that the city has become cleaner in recent years. This can be attributed to the efforts made by the local government to enhance cleanliness through initiatives such as street cleaning and waste management programs.

However, it is worth mentioning that 38% of respondents still expressed dissatisfaction with the overall cleanliness of the city.

Reviews and Feedback from Tourists

Another important aspect of assessing a city’s cleanliness is the feedback from tourists who visit. Tourist reviews and online platforms provide a valuable source of information to gauge public perception and satisfaction.

When it comes to Paris, tourists’ opinions vary widely, with some praising the city’s charm and cleanliness, while others express disappointment.

On popular travel review websites like TripAdvisor, you’ll find a mix of positive and negative reviews regarding the cleanliness of Paris. Some tourists appreciate the city’s efforts in maintaining iconic landmarks and tourist attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum.

They highlight the cleanliness of these areas, which contribute to their overall positive experience. However, there are also tourists who mention encountering litter in certain parts of the city, particularly in crowded areas or near popular tourist sites.

It’s important to remember that individual experiences can differ, and opinions may be influenced by personal preferences and expectations. While some visitors may have high expectations for cleanliness, others may be more forgiving and focus on other aspects of their visit.


In conclusion, while both Paris and New York have faced cleanliness challenges, Paris appears to lag behind New York in terms of garbage collection, pest management, air quality, and public perception of cleanliness. However, the two cities could learn from each other’s successes and continue improving sanitation efforts. The culture, infrastructure, and budgets for each place also factor in. But the bottom line is that no world class city can afford to ignore cleanliness.

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