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Paris is turning its iconic street into pedestrian gardens

In Paris, the Champs-Élysées was originally designed as a place to stroll. But in 2021, around 64,000 cars travel down the eight-lane avenue each day. It’s polluted and noisy, and while the sidewalks are filled with tourists, it isn’t a place where people living nearby want to walk.

As Paris transforms elsewhere—aiming for a vision of a “15-minute city” where it’s possible to easily get anywhere you need to go for day-to-day errands on foot or by bike—the Champs-Élysées will now also be redesigned, in a $304 million project that will turn the mile-long street into what Mayor Anne Hidalgo calls “an extraordinary garden.”

The City of Light will host the Olympic Games in 2024, and as part of its bid, the city focused on sustainability and the idea of using itself as an innovation lab. The transformation of the Champs-Élysées can “make it a showcase of what a sustainable, desirable, and inclusive city will look like in 2030,” writes architect Philippe Chiambaretta, founder of PCA-Stream, a firm that spent two and half years working on a detailed proposal showing how the street could be redesigned. The specific design isn’t final, but recently Hidalgo announced that some sort of redesign is guaranteed to take place.

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