You know when you’re having a party in a new apartment for the first time, and you suddenly look around the place and think, good God, they can’t see it like this!
That’s how French architects are feeling about the Champs-Élysées ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics. Though the Avenue is, “an international symbol, a myth, an icon,” according to architect Philippe Chiambaret, it has gotten way out of control. Though millions visit every year, less than 2% of people on the Avenue at any given time are Parisian. “The Avenue has lost its soul, and its identity,” says Jean-Noel Reinhardt, president of the Champs-Élysées Committee, the organization preparing the Avenue’s overhaul. “The Champs-Élysées is supposed to be a place for walking. If Parisians don’t come here anymore, it’s not because it’s not luxurious enough, or too luxurious. It’s because it’s noisy, unpleasant, and polluted.”
Plans to renovate the Champs-Élysées are underway, with the aim of adding more greenery and walkways, and finding some way to deal with the horrendous traffic on the Avenue at all hours. And all the Parisians had to say was, “Bon courage.”