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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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TOURISM

Top French official dismisses fears for Paris Olympics ceremony

Ambitious plans to organise the opening ceremony of the 2024 Paris Olympics along the banks of the Seine river are feasible, a top French official said Thursday, despite growing warnings about security.

Top French official dismisses fears for Paris Olympics ceremony

More than 160 boats filled with athletes and officials are set to sail almost six kilometres (four miles) along the river in central Paris, with as many as 600,000 spectators expected by organisers.

“We are able to do it but it will need to be carefully planned, both for the nautical risks and the access risks, checkpoints, flows, movement, and the number of access points to avoid bottlenecks,” Michel Cadot told a Senate hearing on Thursday.

Cadot, who is a top government official in charge of major sporting events, was being grilled over crowd problems at the Champions League final in Paris at the end of May.

He said that plans for the opening ceremony were still being discussed at various levels of government and would hopefully be approved “by the end of 2022.”

An artist’s impression of the Paris 2024 opening ceremony, which will include events staged in landmarks such as the Trocadero. Image: Paris Olympic Committee

READ MORE: Paris Olympics: 600,000 opening ceremony spectators and €24 tickets

The ceremony was “objectively a major logistical and organisational challenge,” he conceded.

The decision by organisers to break from the long-held Summer Games tradition of an opening procession in a stadium has reportedly been backed by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and President Emmanuel Macron.

But opposition politicians and security experts have questioned it.

“The open-air opening ceremony is a nightmare for security forces,” deputy head of the Paris region, Patrick Karam, told BFM television at the end of May.

“We’re going to have to abandon it. We can’t guarantee security along the whole route for all of our fellow citizens.”

Well-known French criminologist Alain Bauer called it “criminal madness” in an appearance on the France 5 channel at the end of May, noting the risks of a drone attack or a stampede by the water.

“There’s not a single expert from France, abroad, the CIO (International Olympics Committee), who thinks this thing makes sense,” Bauer said, adding that it was impossible to secure the whole area.

“It’s the most dangerous ceremony in Olympics history,” he said.

Cadot pointed to recent celebrations to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne in Britain as proof that it was possible to organise major open-air gatherings.

“Look at what happened in England recently along the banks of the Thames for the Jubilee and ceremonies with extremely large crowds,” he told the Senate hearing.

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