Who Is Anne Hidalgo, Paris' First Female Mayor?

Anne Hidalgo at the 2014 Paris Marathon │
Anne Hidalgo at the 2014 Paris Marathon │ | © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 3.0
Paul McQueen

After two and a half years in France’s largest public office – a 155-square-meter, wood-paneled affair overlooking the Seine and the Parvis de l’Hôtel de Ville – Anne Hidalgo’s political capital continues to grow. Not only has she led Paris through its darkest days in a generation, she has successfully fought for policies that will make the city a fairer, smarter, and greener place to live.
For many, the most startling fact about Hidalgo is that she is not French by birth. Born in Spain and raised in Lyon, she gained dual nationality and changed her name from Ana at 14. In 1994, she joined the Socialist Party and from March 18, 2001, to April 5, 2014, served as First Deputy Mayor to Bertrand Delanoë (Paris’ first openly gay mayor). Her plan for improving the environment and housing won her the office. She has already extended bicycle and car-sharing programs, all but assured the pedestrianization of the Seine highway, and passed legislation to expand green spaces. Key environmental targets include phasing out diesel vehicles by 2020, making public transport electric by 2030, and ensuring the energy efficiency of public buildings by 2050. In August, Hidalgo was unanimously elected head of the C40 global cities group, enabling a worldwide rollout of similar policies.

Anne Hidalgo with Michael Bloomberg on LPAA Action Day │

The annual creation of 10,000 new residences – 70% for low-income families – is another goal. For Hidalgo, it is essential that they, as well as centers for growing homeless and refugee populations, are spread across the arrondissements to promote inclusivity. This has been met with stiff resistance in Paris’ wealthiest quarters.

Twice, Hidalgo has set aside policy in order to be a unifying force for Parisians. After the terrorist attacks of January and November 2015, she was a familiar sight on the streets and in the media, where she spoke of tackling radicalization with education and inclusion. Indeed, her insistence on unity in diversity is one of her greatest strengths. During the mayoral elections, opponents attempted to use her foreign background against her but this, and her staunch support of minority groups, instead gave her the political edge.

Hidalgo likes to maintain healthy competition between Paris and London. She once joked that if Britain voted to leave the E.U., she would roll out the red carpet for businesses wishing to cross the Channel, echoing former-mayor Boris Johnson’s comments before the Socialist government came to power. While Paris is still some way from taking over as the financial capital of Europe, it is quickly becoming the continent’s digital capital. Most notably, the largest tech start-up campus in the world, Station F, will open at the beginning of 2017. Hidalgo also lived through Paris’ defeat by London for the 2012 Olympics and has doubled down on the city’s bid for the 2024 Games.


Hidalgo’s detractors claim she is too much of a technocrat and lacks charisma. One recent example of this, presented in an April 2016 profile in The Guardian, was Hidalgo’s insistence on understanding the technical aspects of a flooding simulation during a public conference. Not one month later, the Seine rose to its highest levels in 30 years, causing traffic chaos and threatening riverside museums. In retrospect, it is quite comforting to have a mayor who prefers acquiring knowledge to spouting slogans.

She is also refreshingly frank. Asked about Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S., she said simply: ‘Mr. Trump is stupid. He is very stupid.’ Following his election win, she said that ‘the shock is brutal’ and that it is ‘very bad news’ for those who want to live together peacefully and combat climate change.


So far, the mayor has split opinion: only 52% rated her first two years in office ‘favorably.’ Among under-35s and left-wing interviewees, this rose to 60% and 72% respectively. On the right, 70% said they were ‘unhappy’ with her performance. Regardless, Hidalgo’s popularity at the moment for a Socialist politician is impressive. Despite this, she deflects questions on a possible presidential bid once her mandate ends in 2020, insisting she is content in ‘the best job in the world.’

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Edit article