The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, agreed to a nearly $ 300 million restoration project for the Champs-Élysées, the famous boulevard in the heart of the City of Light.
The green light comes more than a year after architects, community leaders and businesses unveiled plans to turn the 1.2-mile stretch of highway into an “extraordinary garden.”
To achieve this garden, the plan is to cut parking space in half, turn roads into pedestrian spaces, plant tunnels of trees alongside old elms planted in days gone by, struggling to survive in polluted air, and generally , create more green. spaces.
“The legendary avenue has lost its splendor for the last 30 years,” said a statement of the Committee of the Champs Elysees in 2019. “The Champs Elysees have more and more visitors and renowned companies struggle to be in it, but for the French it is worn out.”
The Champs Elysees are a place where Parisians have long celebrated: when the Nazis were expelled, when The blue won the 2018 FIFA World Cup and for the annual Bastille Day Parade.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 100,000 pedestrians, more than half of whom were tourists, enjoyed a bit of a stroll here, meanwhile, more cars passed along the boulevard during the day than on the Paris ring road.
Architect Philippe Chiambaretta, whose firm is in charge of the makeover, described the problems to The Guardian as characteristic of all the problems facing modern Paris: “pollution, the place of the automobile, tourism and consumerism”. He went on to explain that the Champs Elysees needed to be rebuilt into something “ecological, desirable and inclusive.”
Historians at the Chiambaretta architecture studio PCA-Stream go back to a time when the Champs-Elysées were, albeit hard to believe, a swamp and an outdoor kitchen area. Then, in the mid-1700s, the Champs-Elysées became the archetypal European waterfront.
“The Champs Elysees have welcomed people from all walks of life, as well as all kinds of activities, both commoners and intellectuals.” explain the article. “Its history is dotted with the installation of café-concerts, puppet shows, dances – which witnessed the birth of the French cancan -, ball and stick game fields, etc.
Today, in addition to typifying the problems faced by the average Parisian, it typifies the problems of mass tourism, that is, the sense of locality fades and the place begins to be “loved to death.”
While the makeover won’t be complete before the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, an attempt to beautify and rethink another famous venue, the Place de la Concorde at the southeastern end of the Champs-Elysees, is expected to be completed.
Another part of the city will also receive a little love: the famous Eiffel Tower, which Hidalgo promises to turn into an “extraordinary park in the heart of Paris.” The Champs-Elysées won’t ditch its polluting traffic until closer to 2030.
(WATCH the video of what the future Champs Elysees might look like below).
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