Paris reveals €225m plan to turn Champs-Élysées into “extraordinary garden”

Stung by claims that Parisians are shunning the Champs-Élysées because of noise and pollution, Paris will go ahead with a €225m plan to transform the famous avenue by turning some traffic lanes over to pedestrians and gardens.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo backed the redesign after years of lobbying by a committee of business owners on the avenue who objected to worsening conditions.

They said the street had "lost its splendour" over the past 30 years, and had been increasingly shunned by Parisians, as well as suffering the effects of the Gilets Jaune protests and the pandemic. 

In 2018 the business group commissioned a design from architect PCA-Stream, which Hidalgo then included in her re-election manifesto last year.

PCA-Stream, the practice founded by architect Philippe Chiambaretta, said the decline of the avenue was "inarguable". 

"Two-thirds of all pedestrians strolling along the Champs-Élysées are tourists, the overwhelming majority of which comes from abroad. Parisians now only amount to 5% of these pedestrians," it said.

The street has "lost its splendour", business owners say (Bretwa/CC0 1.0)

As well as the Champs-Élysées, the plan embraces the Arc de Triomphe at the west end of the avenue and the Place de la Concorde at the east.

Hidalgo told the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche on Sunday that the renewal was in her plans for the coming years, and would give the city "an extraordinary garden" and dovetail with existing plans to refurbish the Place de la Concorde before the Paris Olympics.

Jean-Noël Reinhardt, the president of the Champs-Élysées committee, responded that the announcement was a "great victory" for Parisians, and that the renovation would be a flagship project for the 2020s.

The revamp is expected to go ahead in 2025, after work is completed on preparing the city to host the 2024 Olympic Games, which will include roads and transport systems, and the city’s links with the suburbs of La Défense to the west and Saint-Denis to the north.

Top image: PCA-Stream’s rendering of the partially pedestrianised Champs-Élysées

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