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PARIS 2024 OLYMPICS

Plan to fell trees near Eiffel Tower causes backlash from residents in French capital

Paris is aiming to redevelop the area around the Eiffel Tower in time for the 2024 Olympic Games, but the city's residents are beginning to rebel over a plan that would see 22 trees ripped up.

People sit below the Eiffel Tower on the Champ-de-Mars on a sunny day in Paris.
People sit below the Eiffel Tower on the Champ-de-Mars on a sunny day in Paris. Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP

The Paris mayor’s office wants to build tourist facilities and offices at the foot of the world-famous landmark. Architect’s projections show semi-submerged buildings covered in greenery.

But campaigners have launched a petition urging the mayor’s office to ditch the plan, expressing particular concern over the fate of some very old trees.

“We reject the felling and endangerment of dozens of healthy trees, in particular the 200-year-old and 100-year-old trees, which really are the city’s green lungs,” says the petition, launched by four environmental groups.

Around 35,000 signatures have been gathered so far.

Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire sought to mollify opponents of the scheme. “No 100-year-old tree will be cut down,” he said.

His aides told AFP they were working to reduce the number of trees to be felled for the project, having already cut back from 42 to 22.

They also stressed the redevelopment was part of a plan that involved planting dozens of trees and creating a green space across the clogged centre of the French capital.

But campaigners remain unconvinced. “They are creating some vegetation, but they are destroying a lot of it at the same time,” said Philippe Khayat of the SOS Paris association, one of the backers of the petition.

The Eiffel Tower welcomes some seven million visitors a year.

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Member comments

  1. Typical out of touch politicians dazzled by the prospect of their own glory at the 2024 Olympics. The games do occaisionally make money for the host nation but generally end up loosing money that the tax payer has to cough up for while the smarmy politians preen themselves in the spotlight.
    I remember a few years back that there was a move to cut down the rows of trees that line so many roads in France, and are a beautiful feature of this country, on the grounds that they were a danger to road traffic. Did anyone ever see a tree attack a car?

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ENVIRONMENT

In Pictures: See how Paris plans to transform the Champs-Elysées

Paris will give the famed Champs-Elysées a makeover ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games by planting trees and increasing pedestrian areas, the French capital's officials said on Wednesday.

In Pictures: See how Paris plans to transform the Champs-Elysées

The French often call it “the most beautiful avenue in the world” but activists complain that traffic and luxury retail have turned it into a noisy and elitist area shunned by ordinary Parisians.

“We need to re-enchant the capital’s most famous avenue, which has lost a lot of its splendour in the past 30 years,” the mayor of the capital’s 8th district Jeanne d’Hauteserre told reporters.

“It’s a reduction of the space for cars, to be clear, because that’s how we need to envision the city of the future,” socialist Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said.

The plan is in keeping with other efforts by the city leader to squeeze cars out of Paris and make the city more green, a push that has divided residents with critics saying her policies go too far too fast.

The master plan for the Champs Elysée, including the widening of the area around the arc (Credit: Ville de Paris)

But supporters have lauded the former presidential candidate’s efforts to reduce pollution and increase green areas in the densely populated city that can become unbearable when increasingly frequent summer heatwaves hit.

A map showing where trees, flowers, and gardens will be planted (Credit: Ville de Paris)

Around the Arc de Triomphe, which perches atop the Champs-Elysées, the plan is to widen the pedestrian ring surrounding the monument.

And at the bottom of the two kilometre (1.2 mile) long avenue next to the Place de la Concorde, the “Re-enchant the Champs-Elysées” plan will revamp the gardens. 

An artist’s rendering of the plan for the “Square Marigny” (CREDIT: Ville de Paris)

“We will create a hectare and a half of green spaces and plant over a hundred trees,” deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said.

Paris will spend 26 million euros ($27.5 million) in the lead up to the Olympics on the works set to begin within weeks.

An artist’s rendering of the ‘revamped’ gardens at the end of the Champs Elysée (CREDIT: PCA-STREAM)

The terraces near the top of the avenue favoured by tourists will also be reworked by Belgian designer Ramy Fischler, who will strive to “preserve the identity and personality” of the area, he said.

The Champs-Elysées was first laid out in 1670 but was given a revamp by Baron Haussmann, the architect behind the transformation of Paris under Napoleon III in the mid-19th century.

Proposed green space at the end of the Champs-Elysées (CREDIT: Ville de Paris)

Over the centuries, the avenue has been the stage for the high and low moments in French history, hosting celebrations and commemorations as well as protests, notably the violent Yellow Vest movement.

An artist’s rendering of a round point along the avenue after the project has been finalised (Credit: Ville de Paris)

It is also used as the route for the Bastille Day military parade, which celebrates the French republic and its armed forces on July 14, as well as the finishing point for the annual Tour de France cycle race.

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