Paris to create giant garden near Eiffel Tower

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who’s declared a war on the city’s pollution, this week announced plans to transform the bridgeway linking the historic Trocadéro square with the Eiffel Tower into a “green corridor” reserved for pedestrians by 2024.

Illustration, Kathryn Gustafson

Trocadéro offers one of the best views in Paris of the iconic Iron lady, but the Pont d’Iéna (Jena Bridge) linking the two monuments is heavily trafficked, often making the short walk in between them a highly-polluted experience.

Hidalgo, whose mission to “pedestrianise” the historic centre of the French capital has already led to the banning of cars along large parts of the banks lining the Seine river, said that: “We’re really aiming for a high pedestrian target (…) We’re going to have a splendid garden where we can hear the birds sing,” she said when she announced the €72 million project on Tuesday. Work is set to start at the end of 2020 or the start of 2021.

Part of the corridor will allow for "low-impact” vehicles, such as buses and bikes, to pass.

The corridor has been designed by American landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson and is expected to be inaugurated just before the city hosts the 2024 Olympic Games. “We’re creating the largest garden in Paris […] with much more biodiversity, much more ecology,” she said. Gustafson was part of the team that created the Princess Diana memorial fountain in London.

Illustration, Kathryn Gustafson
Illustration, Kathryn Gustafson

After the Olympics, a second phase of the work on the corridor will then start on the other side of the Eiffel Tower, from Champs de Mars to École Militaire. The full project is expected to be completed in 2030. “It’s a place that will become a space for walking, strolling and breathing,” the mayor said.

Socialist Hidalgo, who is betting on a second mandate as Paris’s mayor in the 2020 local elections, has sparked ire among some Parisians who have accused her of being ready to sacrifice their means of making a living for the sake of her own political ambitions, and to be viewed as a pro-environment campaigner.

Despite the criticism, an Ifop survey released in late March placed Hidalgo as the narrow winner of next year's mayor election race.

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