Paris’s Champs-Élysées will get a pedestrian-friendly green overhaul

Mayor Anne Hidalgo has approved a $304-million plan to pedestrianize the city’s famed Champs-Élysées avenue by 2030 after the Olympics

The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has approved a $304-million (250 million euro) plan to transform the city’s famed Champs-Élysées into a pedestrian-friendly public space by 2030.

The ambitious restoration project, proposed by the local community and first unveiled in 2019, will overhaul the 1.2-mile-long central street in of the French capital that connects the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde into what Hidalgo refers to as an “extraordinary garden” in Le Journal du Dimanche.

Frustrated by the alienating effect that the luxury stores and expensive restaurants had on the locals, the Champs-Élysées committee has been campaigning for the redesign since 2018 and proposed the now approved project in 2019. The scheme was designed by PCA-Stream, a French architectural firm based in Paris. PCA-Stream principal and founder Philippe Chiambaretta stated that his goal was to convert the boulevard into a space that would be “ecological, desirable and inclusive.”

Lately, the “world’s most beautiful avenue,” as it’s sometimes known, has fallen on hard times and hosted several consecutive crises thanks to its prominent location in the heart of the French capital: After the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) protests, strikes, and high-end retail gentrification over the last 30 years, the scheme looks to return the street to local residents. The committee, headed by Jean-Noel Reinhardt welcomed the mayor’s good news.

PCA-Stream’s scheme seeks to close half of the street’s eight lanes to cars and insert pockets of greenery or “planted living rooms.” According to Chiabaretta, this will improve the air quality of a street that sees up to an average of 3,000 cars per hour. The revitalization will also introduce food kiosks and meeting spaces in an attempt to attract locals back into the area and return it to a space closer to its original purpose of fostering open-air comingling.

The avenue was originally conceived by André Le Nôtre, King Louis XIV’s landscape architect, in 1667 as an extension to the gardens at the Tuileries Palace to the southeast on the bank of the River Seine. In 1709, the finished boulevard took its name from the Greek Elysian Fields, an outdoor paradise for the righteous to frolic in for all eternity. The new renovation be delivered in two stages; the work at the Place de la Concorde, Paris’s largest public square, will be completed before the Olympic games in 2024 with the rest following, with a completion date set for 2030.

Source: Paris’s Champs-Élysées will get a pedestrian-friendly green overhaul

Paris agrees to turn Champs-Élysées into ‘extraordinary garden’

Mayor Anne Hidalgo gives green light to £225m-scheme to transform French capital’s most famous avenue

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.

André Le Nôtre, Louis XIV the Sun King’s gardener, first designed the wide promenade lined with a double row of elm trees on each side, called the Grand Cours.

It was renamed the Champs-Élysées in 1709 and extended, and by the end of the century had become a popular place to walk and picnic.

An image showing the planned redevelopment of the Champs-Élysées
An image showing the planned redevelopment of the Champs-Élysées. Photograph: PCA-Stream

Paris celebrated the 1944 liberation from Nazi occupation on the Champs-Élysées and World Cup victories still bring out the crowds, but its famous charm has faded and it is mostly shunned by Parisians.

Today it is famous for its expensive cafes, luxury shops, high-end car salesrooms, commercial rents among the highest in the world and the annual Bastille Day military parade.

Before the Covid-19 crisis halted international tourism, the architect Philippe Chiambaretta, whose firm PCA-Stream drew up the makeover plans, said that of the estimated 100,000 pedestrians on the avenue every day, 72% were tourists and 22% work there.

The eight-lane highway is used by an average of 3,000 vehicles an hour, most passing through, and is more polluted than the busy périphérique ring road around the French capital, he added.

Chiambaretta said the Champs-Élysées had become a place that summed up the problems faced by cities around the world, “pollution, the place of the car, tourism and consumerism”, and needed to be redeveloped to be “ecological, desirable and inclusive”.

The plans also include redesigning the famous Place de la Concorde – Paris’s largest place – at the south-east end of the avenue, described by city hall as a “municipal priority”. This is expected to be completed before the Olympic Games. The aim is to transform the Champs-Élysées by 2030.

Hidalgo told Le Journal du Dimanche that the project was one of several intended to transform the city “before and after 2024”, including turning the area around the Eiffel Tower into an “extraordinary park at the heart of Paris”.

Source: Paris agrees to turn Champs-Élysées into ‘extraordinary garden’ | Paris | The Guardian

France becomes first country in Europe to ban all five pesticides killing bees 

France will take a radical step towards protecting its dwindling bee population on Saturday by becoming the first country in Europe to ban all five pesticides researchers believe are killing off the insects [ . . . ]

Source: France becomes first country in Europe to ban all five pesticides killing bees 

Thousands gather in France, worldwide for annual march against Monsanto

Thousands of protesters gathered across France and in over 30 cities around the world to march against the activities of Bayer-Monsanto and others agrochemical giants on Saturday, while Monsanto lost its third lawsuit in the US. [ . . . ]

Continue at France 24: Thousands gather in France, worldwide for annual march against Monsanto

The SOS Barthelasse collective still hopes to prevent the felling of thousands of trees in Avignon

The members of the SOS Barthelasse collective have again mobilized this Saturday in Avignon. An appointment that was answered by about sixty people. This collective manifests against the project of restoration of the dike on the island of Barthelasse. Poplars, oaks, birches

Thousands of trees must be cut for seven kilometers . 

After a walk organized on the island, activists took stock of their actions. They were received the day before by representatives of the Grand Avignon, carriers of the project. 

For Benoît Massoteau, this is a small victory : “We now have access to all the pages of the file and we will be able to come back to consult with experts, we are very happy because at first people thought we were illuminated.”

After the speech, a picnic was planned. It was also possible to sign the petition launched by SOS Barthelasse, which Jacqueline, a resident of Pugaut, hastened to do: “For my children and my grandchildren, I love nature and it would be terrible to lose as much trees … “

Continue at FRANCE BLEU: The SOS Barthelasse collective still hopes to prevent the felling of thousands of trees in Avignon

Beyond glyphosate: French vineyards shift away from controversial weedkiller

France’s wine industry can become “the first in the world without glyphosate”, President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday at the Paris Agriculture Fair. But is foregoing the controversial herbicide possible? FRANCE 24 spoke with vintners.

At France’s largest, if temporary, farm – the country’s annual agricultural fair, held at Porte de Versailles exhibition grounds on the southern rim of Paris – it was barely 10am on Monday and Xavier Martin was already enjoying a glass of red wine.

At a stand showcasing his wine from Irouléguy in the Basque country, the 58-year-old had just polished off a fried egg and a slice of grilled bacon. “Wine, I was born in it,” the fifth-generation winegrower says. A salon jury had just rewarded his 2017 Mignaberry rosé with a gold medal.

Martin, who gave up on synthetic herbicides 20 years ago, feels strongly about glyphosate. “We must keep our soils clean, just as we received them from our ancestors, to pass them on to our children,” the bearded vintner says.

“These grounds will outlive us. We must work to preserve them.” Continue reading “Beyond glyphosate: French vineyards shift away from controversial weedkiller”