PARIS, France — Paris’s most-famous avenue, the Champs-Élysées, needs a facelift. That’s the verdict of building owners and retailers located on the street. They are now trying to convince the city of Paris that the avenue, which stretches from the Napoleonic Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, is ripe for refurbishment 20 years after its last renovation.
“If nothing is done, the Champs-Élysées will become less attractive,” said Jean-Noel Reinhardt, president of the Champs-Élysées committee, in a telephone interview today. “The last renovation was in 1993, when the sidewalks were broadened.”
Champs-Élysées businesses say the avenue faces increasing competition from other European capitals in its efforts to tap into a growing tourism market, especially with visitors from China and Russia. Their call for help comes at a time when President Francois Hollande’s government is seeking to increase France’s attractiveness to rekindle a stagnant economy.
The city of Paris this week agreed to participate in a taskforce that will make proposals next year to reduce car traffic in the area, increase the number of cinemas and restaurants, celebrate more events or create gardens, he said.
“We need to go even further if the Champs-Élysées is to keep its aura,” Philippe Houze, chairman of the department store chain Galeries Lafayette, told Le Parisien today. The chain last month said it has entered into talks to open a store on the avenue.
The seven-kilometer (4.4-mile) long avenue, created in the 17th century under the reign of King Louis XIV, has become the third-most expensive retail location in the world, after New York’s Fifth Avenue and Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay, according to a report published last week by real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield Inc.
‘Keeping Myth Alive’
The avenue, home to the flagship store of the luxury goods maker LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, has seen prices balloon. Booming real-estate prices have led cinemas and other cultural venues to close down, Reinhard said.
“If fountains are to be replaced, or roads paved and closed to cars, the state has to come in,” he said. “We need to give people more reasons to come, to keep the myth alive.”
By Angeline Benoit; editors: Jerrold Colten, Vidya Root, Frank Connelly.