Tuesday, May 18

Paris approves plan to turn the Champs Elysees into ‘extraordinary garden’ | Paris

The mayor of Paris has said that a 250 million euro (225 million pound) renovation of the Champs-Elysees will take place, although the ambitious transformation will not come before the French capital hosts the Summer Olympics. of 2024.

Anne Hidalgo said the work, presented in 2019 by community leaders and local businesses, would turn the 1.9 km (1.2 mile) stretch of central Paris into “an extraordinary garden.”

The Champs-Élysées committee has been campaigning for a major redesign of the avenue and its surroundings since 2018.

“The legendary avenue has lost its splendor during the last 30 years. It has been progressively abandoned by the Parisians and has been hit by several successive crises: the yellow vests, strikes, health, and the economy, ”the committee said in a statement welcoming Hidalgo’s announcement.

“It is often called the most beautiful avenue in the world, but those of us who work here every day are not entirely sure about that,” said Jean-Noël Reinhardt, chairman of the committee in 2019. “The Champs Elysees have more and more Visitors and big-name companies struggle to participate, but for the French it looks worn out. “

The committee held a public consultation on what should be done with the avenue. Plans include cutting vehicle space in half, turning roads into green and pedestrian areas, and creating tree tunnels to improve air quality.

The name of the Champs Elysees in French means the mythical Greek paradise, the Champs Elysees. Originally it was a mixture of swamps and orchards. André Le Nôtre, the gardener to Louis XIV the Sun King, first designed the wide promenade bordered by a double row of elms on each side, called the Grand Cours. It was renamed the Champs-Élysées in 1709 and expanded, and by the turn of the century it had become a popular place for walks and picnics.

An image showing the planned redevelopment of the Champs Elysees.
An image showing the planned redevelopment of the Champs Elysees. Photograph: PCA-Stream

Paris celebrated the 1944 liberation from Nazi occupation on the Champs Elysees and the World Cup victories still draw crowds, but its famous allure has faded and is largely shunned by Parisians.

Today it is famous for its expensive cafes, upscale shops, high-end car showrooms, commercial rents among the highest in the world, and the annual Bastille Day military parade.

Before the Covid-19 crisis brought international tourism to a halt, architect Philippe Chiambaretta, whose firm PCA-Stream drew up the remodeling plans, said that of the roughly 100,000 pedestrians on the avenue every day, 72% were tourists and 22% work there. The eight-lane highway is used by an average of 3,000 vehicles per hour, most of them passing through, and is more polluted than the busy peripheral ring road around the French capital, he added.

Chiambaretta said that the Champs Elysees had become a place that summed up the problems faced by cities around the world, “pollution, the place of the automobile, tourism and consumerism”, and needed to be remodeled to be “ecological, desirable and inclusive. ” .

Plans also include the redesign of the famous Place de la Concorde, the largest in Paris. site – at the southeast end of the avenue, classified by the City Council as a “municipal priority”. This is expected to be completed before the Olympics. The goal is to transform the Champs Elysees by 2030.

Hidalgo told Le Journal du Dimanche that the project was one of several aimed at transforming the city “before and after 2024”, including converting the area around the Eiffel Tower into an “extraordinary park in the heart of Paris.”


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