More details are emerging about the Paris 'face lift'.
Getting cities green has been on the agenda for many of Europe’s great cities. Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, recently gave the go-ahead to a £225 million makeover of the Champs-Élysées. The 1.2-mile (1.9km) stretch will become an “extraordinary garden”. Plans include reducing the number of car lanes from four to two, creating new pedestrian areas and planting “tree tunnels” that improve air quality along the avenue.
Putting nature back into urban life is clearly a priority for the city. Four “urban forests” are to be planted, including in front of the Hôtel de Ville and behind the Palais Garnier. There will also be the recovery of the Bièvre river, a tributary of the Seine whose source can be found near Versailles, from where it winds through four departments before joining Paris’s famous river.
The 21.5 mile-long Bièvre became so polluted in the early 20th century that it was buried underground. Plans are in motion to improve its quality with a view to its reopening for swimming for public use – including, according to some reports, of hosting the sport at the 2024 Olympic Games. It will run from the 13th arrondissement to the Pont d’Austerlitz.
“There’s new momentum for this project as we face the climate crisis, increasing heatwaves and the threat to biodiversity,” says Dan Lert, the deputy mayor overseeing these plans.