“Push onwards and outwards,” seems to be the motto of the powers that be. West of the Porte de la Chapelle, everything has disappeared, huts and bivouacs, especially under the tracks leading from the gare de Nord. Even the blocks of stone put in place to prevent people from sleeping there have vanished. However, the shantytown inhabited by Roms is still there, against all odds – despite vicissitudes, pressure, fires and efforts at forcible expulsion.
To the east, some tents are still up on the divider in the middle of the boulevard. But here the stone blocks meant to prevent rough sleeping have been left in place, especially under the shelter offered by a railway overpass.
Here, in this bit of space underneath the city’s ring-road `and the on-ramps feeding into the northbound motorway, tents and a few shacks have sprung up on patches of land running along the roadside. This is the site where exiles, now pushed another few hundred metres back, have been able to take shelter.
The location gives onto the Porte de la Chapelle and the “humanitarian camp” fronted by La Bulle, the absurd inflatable dome that serves as its reception centre. Like a grotesque, giant balloon, it gives access to a ridiculously inadequate, under-sized and over-crowded camp, spilling out beyond its confines due to lack of living space. La Bulle represents the government’s sunny promises meant to mask its real policy of “not-welcome.”
Hidden under the ring road, the real encampment running alongside the off-ramps and underpasses gives a true-to-life picture of the harsh reality of “not-welcome.”
Victor Hugo: City with brocken bridge.