By Jonny Long
Paris' Champs-Élysées, where the final stage of the Tour de France is held each year, is set to be radically transformed into an "extraordinary garden".
The roads will be pedestrianised and turned into green space, with trees planted to improve the air quality as the space for vehicles is halved, at a cost of €200m.
Activists have campaigned for years to salvage the tourist trap from overcrowding and overpriced cafés, with the 100,000 people who visit the Champs-Élysées each day being 72 per cent tourists, the district shunned by everyday Parisians.
The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said the first stage of the redevelopment will be ready in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics, with the remaining work to be completed by 2030.
"The legendary avenue has lost its splendour over the last 30 years," Hidalgo said. "It has been progressively abandoned by Parisians and has undergone several successive crises: the gilets jaunes, strikes, and health and economic crises."
The Champs-Élysées may take viewers' breath away when it holds centre stage for the final day of the Tour de France each year, captured along with the rest of the metropolis by the helicopters as the sun sets over the French capital, but that's not necessarily the case for the other 364 days of the year.
"It's often called the world's most beautiful avenue, but those of us who work here every day are not at all sure about that," said Jean-Noël Reinhardt, the president of the organising committee.
"The Champs-Élysées has more and more visitors and big-name businesses battle to be on it, but to French people it's looking worn out."
News of the impact this refurbishment will have on the running of the Tour de France's 21st stage is currently unknown, although is unlikely to alter it too much.
But if it does, what about a final kick to the line up to Montmartre? A competitive final day to the Grand Tour as the GC riders sprint for the line. Monsieur Prudhomme, I await your call.
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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