In French, the Champs-Élysées stands for “Elysian Fields,” the mythical Greek paradise. And while its name immediately evokes a specific type of Parisian beauty, locals have been disillusioned with the legendary avenue for years. Home to expensive cafes, high-end shops, and car salesrooms, the promenade has become a tourist trap and is actually more polluted than the busy périphérique ring road that circles the city.
“The legendary avenue has lost its splendor during the last 30 years,” the Champs-Élysées committee, which has been campaigning for a redesign since 2018, said in a statement. “It has been progressively abandoned by Parisians and has been hit by several successive crises: the gilets jaunes, strikes, health, and economic.”
Community leaders and businesses have proposed that the avenue be transformed into a sweeping green space. “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.”
Mayor Anne Hidalgo has confirmed that the $300 million proposal will come to fruition. Current plans include halving space for vehicles, converting roads into pedestrian and green areas, and creating tree tunnels to improve air quality. The architect Philippe Chiambaretta, founder of PCA-Stream, will lead the redesign, which is slated for completion by 2030. According to Hidalgo, several similar projects are on the books—the city plans to convert the area by the Eiffel Tower into green space and redesign the Place de la Concorde.