Mayor Hits Out At Paris' Detractors

PARIS -- The City of Lights unlivable? Impossible, says the mayor of Paris, launching a countercampaign Tuesday against the French capital's detractors.

Mayor Jean Tiberi angrily took aim at French and foreign media reports that he contends have systematically slurred Paris as "uninhabitable.''

Smog and traffic, critics contend, have made Paris unbearable and taken away the cachet of living in a world capital of cuisine, culture and haute-couture.

Tiberi lashed out at "a campaign that Paris has become unlivable and that a significant number of its residents wish to leave the capital and live in the country.''

The capital's crusade against air pollution has kept it in the headlines both here and abroad.

Citing the pollution, noise and stress, about 68,000 people a year are fleeing Paris and its suburbs for the fresh air and open spaces of the countryside, the daily Liberation reported this month.

The conservative mayor has challenged the government statistics office, saying migration out of Paris actually dropped slightly between 1990 and 1993.