Under a gray sky, the bars of faded pink HLM buildings in Old Saint-Ouen see an assembly in costume parading at their feet.
"There, it was my school!", Proudly indicates the mayor (PS) Karim Bouamrane to Catherine Vautrin, the president of the National Agency for Urban Renewal (ANRU), before leading her to the Seine, a stone's throw away. .
The walk prefigured the signing on Tuesday afternoon of an agreement to transform two degraded districts, Old Saint-Ouen and the Cordon-La Motte-Taupin city.
By winning an envelope from the ANRU of 100 million euros, the City has completed this project of more than 350 million euros. A first for this popular town of around 50.000 inhabitants at the northern gates of Paris.
Some 500 homes will be destroyed and around 1.200 others rehabilitated, new buildings will come out of the ground, public spaces will be redesigned and planted, says the municipality.
"We put the package on the beautiful, it's rehabilitation through the beautiful", raves Mr. Bouamrane.
The operation also aims to instil more diversity where the social housing rate rises to 80%.
"The objective is to reduce the number of social housing a little bit but also to have a mix. What will be rebuilt instead is often housing dedicated to employees, the intermediate socio-professional categories , nurses, teachers", details Adel Ziane, deputy delegate for development.
These changes are part of a move upmarket in the city, under pressure from Parisian real estate.
The majority of affected residents have lived here for more than a decade, according to city figures. For some of them, met by AFP, a future move arouses concern, even rejection.
"I like the neighborhood and I don't want to move that's for sure," says Maryam Niane, 68.
His building, at number 5 of the Taupin towers, must be razed. Its 16 bright apartments, its clean common areas and its unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower nevertheless give it a better status than its neighbor, the tired-looking number 4, with its lookouts in the lobby. He will simply be renovated.
By its location, number 5 "creates a kind of enclave where drug trafficking can take place", explains Mr. Ziane. The idea is to open up this city that looks like a “mousetrap” to facilitate police interventions, he says.
"We have everything to lose," said Djaouiba Mazef, a teacher, who lives in a 76 m2 apartment with her daughters. "I do not accept that for reasons of opening up and traffic we bring down a building."
The inhabitants discovered by chance the fate reserved for their building when other options exist, supports Ms. Mazef, who denounces a lack of consultation and a land operation aimed at "gentrifying more and more" as the Olympics approach. of Paris 2024.
In his eyes, the inhabitants of his building are "sacrificed on the altar of financial interests", with "the consent of the State".
The City has promised the "rehousing without exception of all those concerned in Saint-Ouen and this without increase in rent", in particular at the docks and in the future accommodation of the Village of the Olympic Games athletes.
At this stage of the negotiations planned over several years, "about thirty relocations have been carried out", counts Mr. Ziane, praising "accompaniment work".
But opponents fear being relegated to smaller, more expensive and outlying accommodation.
"They want to do something nice and pretty, but not for us. We get out," says Leïla, childminder. An elderly neighbor, who refuses to give his name, concludes the conversation: "if they destroy the building, it will be with me in it!"