There are plans to revitalise Paris' famous Champs-Élysées by making it more pedestrian-friendly with exciting new attractions, including a seasonal urban beach and an ice-rink around the Arc de Triomphe.
While many tourists consider the Champs-Élysées “la plus belle avenue du monde” — the most beautiful street in the world, locals have a different idea. In recent years it has begun to feel like a motorway with 64,000 cars clogging the lanes each day, and high-street and high-end stores cramping the famous tree-lined boulevard's style. The noise level is also “one of the highest in Paris” and most Parisians avoid it if they can. In an effort to fix that, local businesses came together to form the Comité Champs-Élysées and their plans to revitalise the avenue have just been given the green-light from mayor Anne Hidalgo after they launched their campaign in 2018. Ms Hidalgo said the plans will transform Paris into “an extraordinary garden”.
Sweeping down from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, the 1.9 km (1.2 mile) Champs-Élysées was named after the Elysian Fields (‘heaven’ in Greek mythology) and designed in the 17th century by renowned landscape designer André Le Nôtre for the French royal family. It's one of the most famous thoroughfares in the world and plays host to millions of visitors each year. But its reputation as one of the grandest boulevards in the world has started to fade in recent years. And the city has decided it's time for a polish.
About 100,000 pedestrians walk down the Champs-Élysées each day and 53% of them are tourists. “Only 4% are Parisian strollers come to visit, to shop or to walk,” the committee says. It hopes to lure locals with a facelift overseen by the architect Philippe Chiambaretta, whose grand plans for the famous avenue includes reducing traffic lanes, making space for cycle paths, a tram, and electric buses. Pavements will be widened and more trees will be planted, making the space greener, cleaner and ideal for strolling or watching the world go by while sitting at a sidewalk cafe.
It's suggested that the Place de l’Étoile, where the Arc de Triomphe stands, could become an urban beach in summer and an ice-rink in winter. There are also plans to build a cultural centre at Place de l’Étoile with exhibition halls and city gardens. It was hoped the transformation would happen ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris but it will likely be some time after that.
This article was first published on April 15, 2019 and updated on January 12, 2021.