Few would dispute the view that the once glorious Champs-Élysées has been coasting. In recent decades, it has devolved into a kind of high-end, historic strip mall, along whose tourist-clogged sidewalks—100,000 pedestrians a day, pre-coronavirus—French is sometimes detectable as a second (or third, or fourth) language. As for the cars: traffic volume along the eight lanes has been estimated at 84,000 vehicles daily, with the attendant pollution.
But that will soon change, and—are you sitting down?—for the better. Mayor Anne Hidalgo has approved a $300 million renovation for the boulevard, telling the Journal du Dimanche, “It’s going to be another extraordinary garden.” Although the full greening of the Champs will take until 2030, a redesign of the Place de la Concorde is expected to be ready in time for the city’s hosting of the Olympics in 2024.