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Last updated at 12:52 GMT, Monday, 17 March 2014

Paris smog


17 March 2014

Motorists in Paris face an unusual day of restrictions as the government tries to reduce high levels of pollution in the city. Today only cars with odd-numbered registration plates are allowed to drive. Tomorrow, if the restrictions remain in place, it'll be even-numbered cars that can be driven.


Hugh Schofield

A Metro train in Paris

Authorities hope more people will use public transport


Click to hear the report


Seven hundred police will be monitoring traffic from early in the morning. If you're caught in an even-numbered car, you're liable to a small fine, and you'll be told to turn back home. There are exceptions for electric and hybrid vehicles, and for cars carrying three or more passengers.

The measure's been tried once before, in 1997, when it's claimed it did have a noticeable impact on improving air quality. However for many people in Paris and the suburbs it's going to mean a day of inconvenience, and delivery companies are already complaining of lost income.

Politically, the stakes are high, because it comes just a week before Parisians start electing their new mayor.


Click here to hear the vocabulary



checking or watching something to find out what happens


even numbers are numbers that can be divided by two (eg: 2, 4, 6); odd numbers are those in between (eg: 1, 3, 5)

hybrid vehicles

cars, lorries, vans or motorbikes with engines that use two or more kinds of power


easy to see


difficulty; something which causes extra time or effort to do something

the stakes are high

there is a lot of risk