Plans by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to build a “Greater Paris” are being condemned by opponents who question the wisdom of unveiling one of the most audacious urban projects in recent memory in the midst of a global recession.

A ceremony was held last week in which architects from around the world presented their proposals to build a new metropolitan Paris.

Sarkozy studiously avoided the question of where the French government would find the money to realize his dream of creating the world’s first “postKyoto” city, a reference to the treaty on climate change.

“It’s all grandstanding,” said Denis Baupin, a Green party official in the Paris town hall, adding that “President Bling-Bling,” as Sarkozy is sometimes called, was displaying a hint of megalomania in his effort to earn a legacy as one of the capital’s great builder kings.

The 10 proposals unveiled last week - including one by Lord Rogers - were the result of nine months of work commissioned by Sarkozy.

They are intended to link the centre of Paris with the urban sprawl beyond the boulevard périphérique, or ring road, bringing hope to crime-infested zones of want and despair that were the focus of riots in 2005.

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