Mayor Anne Hidalgo gives green light to £225m-scheme to transform French capital’s most famous avenue
Kim Willsher in Paris
The mayor of Paris has said a €250m (£225m) makeover of the Champs-Élysées will go ahead, though the ambitious transformation will not happen before the French capital hosts the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Anne Hidalgo said the planned work, unveiled in 2019 by local community leaders and 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 splendour during the last 30 years. It has been progressively abandoned by Parisians and has been hit by several successive crises: the gilets jaunes, strikes, health and economic,” the committee said in a statement welcoming Hidalgo’s announcement.
“It’s often called the world’s most beautiful avenue, but those of us who work here every day are not at all sure about that,” Jean-Noël Reinhardt, the committee president said in 2019.
“The Champs-Élysées has more and more visitors and big-name businesses battle to be on it, but to French people it’s looking worn out.”
The committee held a public consultation over what should be done with the avenue. The plans include reducing space for vehicles by half, turning roads into pedestrian and green areas, and creating tunnels of trees to improve air quality.
The Champs-Élysées’ name is French for the mythical Greek paradise, the Elysian Fields. It was originally a mixture of swamp and kitchen gardens.