Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has announced that the city’s most famous promenade, the Champs-Élysées, will undergo an ambitious, €250 million ($304 million) renovation. The effort will turn the 1.2 mile-long avenue, which connects the Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde, into what Hidalgo calls an “extraordinary garden.”
What the French have long referred to as the “most beautiful avenue in the world” has, in recent decades, become a tourist hotspot packed with expensive restaurants and luxury stores—and increasingly avoided by locals.
“The legendary avenue has lost its splendor over the past 30 years,” read a statement from the Champs-Élysées Committee, which has lobbied local government to renovate the stretch of road for years. “It was gradually abandoned by the Parisians and suffered the full brunt of several respective crises: yellow vests, strikes, health and economic crisis, etc.”
Last year, the committee proposed the now-approved restoration project, funded through “public and private investment,” committee president Jean-Noël Reinhardt said at the time.
Conceived by French architectural firm PCA-Stream, the restoration project will optimize walkway space for pedestrians, add more greenery to improve air conditions, and decrease automobile traffic by half. Firm founder Philippe Chiambaretta told The Guardian that his goal is to make the space “ecological, desirable, and inclusive”.
The undertaking will be completed in two stages, both to the timing of the 2024 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Paris. The Place de la Concorde, the public square at the southeastern tip of the avenue, will come first; its renovation is scheduled to be completed before the opening of the games. The rest of the promenade will be finished afterward, with a projected completion date of 2030.
André Le Nôtre, a gardener for Louis XIV, first designed the avenue in 1667. In 1709, it was renamed the Champs-Élysées after the mythical Greek afterlife, the Elysian Fields. Since then, it has been a site of celebration for many of France’s proudest victories, including the country’s liberation from Germany in 1944 and its World Cup wins in 1998 and 2018.
Today, the Champs-Élysées is the annual home of the Bastille Day Parade in July and the last stage of the Tour de France in late summer. The avenue was last renovated more than 25 years ago.
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