One of the most famous streets in the world, the Champs-Elysees, will close to vehicle traffic once a month. It’s been announced as a means to control vehicle emissions, which I honestly don’t see as likely to happen in any meaningful fashion.
When I first saw the announcement, I thought it was to encourage folks to spend more time leisurely exploring the thoroughfare that connects some of Paris’ most popular tourist areas. And, I really thought it was a good idea. Most of the times we’ve ended up on the Champs it’s been really busy with car traffic. It’s a beautiful street even if it’s dotted more and more with mass merchants as opposed to smaller local vendors.
We’ve walked the Champs-Elysees partially a handful of times. We had lunch at Laduree on the Champs. And, we got a good overhead view of the traffic from the Arc de Triomphe.
When we stayed at Hyatt Regency Etoile, it was a relatively short walk up the other side of the Arc on Avenue de la Grande Armee to get to the Champs. So, it’s accessible from some of the main tourist areas in the city, which should bring out some decent crowds on days when cars aren’t allowed.
It already closes a handful of times a year. The article notes that it closes on New Year’s Day, but it also closes for a decent chunk of the last day of the Tour de France so the riders can finish on the cobblestones and celebrate the achievement. It just seems like a monthly closure would be a great opportunity to build cultural events on the Champs to attract tourism and build the community.
But, given that all those cars fighting on the Champs need to go somewhere, I suspect the net effect won’t be a whole bunch of people leaving their cars at home. It’ll likely just mean busier side streets.
I don’t have a trip to Paris planned right now but I’ll definitely add to my bucket list getting to Paris on a day when the Champs is closed to experience a walk up the street without the honking of horns accompanying stop-and-go traffic.
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