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Paris Champs-Élysées to be turned into an 'extraordinary garden'

An artist's impression showing the Concorde Square and the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris
An artist's impression showing the Concorde Square and the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris   -   Copyright  AFP PHOTO /PCA-STREAM
By Doloresz Katanich  with AFP

Paris' famed Champs-Élysées avenue is going to be turned into what will be an "extraordinary garden," promises the city mayor.

Mayor Hidalgo recently confirmed the news in Journal du Dimanche, following years of preparation and campaigning. The main backing came from the Champs-Élysées committee, which represents the cultural and economic players on the Avenue (museums, theatres, brands and independent shops).

Since 2018, the committee has been working on a project to redevelop the 2 km promenade between the Arc de Triomphe and Concorde. It says "the mythical avenue has lost its splendour over the past thirty years," which is why change is on the horizon.

Despite the fact that the French call it "the most beautiful avenue in the world", the grand avenue now resembles more of a highway, with tens of thousands of cars passing by each day. Of late, it's also acted as a central location for strikes, most notably the yellow vest protests.

But soon, it will be turned into a green oasis. According to Mayor Hidalgo, the greening will take place in stages. The car-clogged Place de la Concorde is scheduled to be completed first before the Paris Olympic Games in 2024, followed by the whole avenue.

Members of the French national federation of deported workers march on the Champs-Élysées avenue in October 1945 in Paris.AFP

Parisians are happy with the revamp idea, with a recent citizen poll reaching 100,000 signatures. Supporters say the level of pollution is bound to get lower, as a big part of the area in the heart of the French capital will now be preserved for pedestrians with an expected 72 per cent drop in traffic.

However, some are critical, saying that Paris is already well indebted and this project comes with a €250 million price tag.

The project is designed by architect Philippe Chiambaretta and his agency PCA-STREAM.