The City of Light has unveiled grand plans to become the City of Leaves.
As part of a vision for a greener Paris, the space around the Eiffel Tower will be transformed to make the city’s largest public park.
The makeover creates a 1.6-kilometre-long green corridor that stretches from the Place du Trocadéro to the Champ de Mars, the park beneath the Eiffel Tower, and incorporates Pont d’Iéna, the bridge linking the city’s Left and Right banks.
The transformation of more than 40 hectares comes at a cost of €72 million (AUD$106 million) and is set to be completed by 2023, in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
London landscape architecture firm Gustafson Porter + Bowman was selected from among 43 applicants to design the new Eiffel Tower park, which has become something of a victim of its own success.
More than 30 million people visit the Eiffel Tower each year and the site deals with the requisite overcrowding, accessibility issues and a lack of services.
The new design reimagines the current, somewhat austere Champ de Mars – it was originally a military training ground with little in the way of shade. It also incorporates a pedestrianised bridge (think New York’s Highline over the Seine) linking two public squares from the Place du Trocadéro on the Right Bank to the Place Joffre and the Ecole Militaire on the Left.
The plan re-routes road traffic, making the whole area more pedestrian-friendly, especially for tourists.
Visitors to the Eiffel Tower usually emerge from the Trocadéro Métro station into a whirl of traffic and crowds. The new design will replace lanes of traffic with a stepped, grassy amphitheatre from which people can enter a new pedestrian square at the Palais de Chaillot.
From there, it’s a stroll across the Pont D’Iéna, proposed by Napoleon and completed in 1814, towards the Eiffel Tower. Pedestrians are currently relegated to either edge of the bridge in favour of cars; as part of the plan it will become a grand, green, car-free promenade.
The forecourt of the Eiffel Tower will have additional services and facilities for visitors – ticket offices and even luggage drop-off facilities – and they’ll be discreetly located among trees and raised lawns.
The park is just one part of an undertaking by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to create a greener city.
Hidalgo says the green spaces and “urban forests” are intended to cool Paris – which experienced record high temperatures of 42.6°C in July 2019 – and make it liveable long into the future.
"We have an obligation to act today to avoid making this city impossible to live in down the road," Hidalgo told Le Parisien.
Indeed, by 2050 Paris plans to be completely carbon neutral. A cleaner, greener, cooler Paris – now that’s thinking ahead.