Paris goes green

The trees that line the Champs-Elysees normally stand in glorious isolation against a landscape of cobblestones and cars. But this weekend, Parisians who frequent the city's most famous street will find them restored to their natural habitat - as an explosion of greenery takes over the promenade to turn it into a giant garden.

Instead of the cobblestones, there will be grass. Instead of the usual cars and mopeds, there will be wandering cows and sheep. And as well as the clipped horse-chestnut trees on both sides of the road, there will be olive trees, flowers, and vegetables. The two-day metamorphosis will start at 8pm tomorrow, the international day of Biodiversity, when the traffic running towards the Arc de Triomphe will be stopped and 800 young farmers will help to lay some 152,009 plants.

The installation is the idea of street artist Gad Weil, who has worked with landscaper Laurence Médioni to create the event. M Weil told The Independent: "I had the idea for this work of street art in 2007, and more than 1,500 volunteers have helped to bring it to life this weekend. I want to tell the landscapes of France in a poetic form. The street installation is to question and reflect on mankind's relationship with nature and ecology, upon the place of nature in cities and towns. Bringing people together for two days of celebration is a different way to address these questions."

Called Nature Capitale, it has been organised with the help of the Young Farmers Association and Forestry Association of France. There will be over 150 species of plants and animals over a 1km sweep from the rond-point to the Arc de Triomphe, representing 87% of the forestry and agriculture species grown in France, including rare Limousin pigs, goats, miscanthus, mustard and magnolia. Visitors will be able to buy plants, and food from a huge farmers market. On Sunday, Paris's butchers are holding a free barbeque to promote their work.

The installation has cost €4.2m in total, and more than two million people are expected to visit the Champs-Elysees on Sunday and Monday.

The Champs-Elysees has been closed to traffic for M Weil's art installations a total of six times. Twenty years ago, the avenue was transformed into a giant wheat field for the Grande Moisson, or Great Harvest. M Weil said: "This was to mark the bicentenary of the French Revolution, where there was such a shortage of bread. On another occasion, in 2003, I rolled a train down the Champs-Elysees, while in 1998 the avenue was closed as 40 aeroplanes were installed along it."

His next project is to turn a road in Istanbul green. "I would be delighted if Boris Johnson approached me to work with British farmers to similarly transform Oxford Street into a green space," he said.

A spokesperson for the mayor's office said: "Paris is proud to offer the 'Nature Capitale' event its most prestigious avenue and, thus, contribute to make the whole world aware of the major challenge of preserving and developing biodiversity."

The Champs-Elysees, meaning Elysian Fields, was an area of vegetable gardens and fields until the 17th Century. Then, in 1628 Marie de Medici created the Cours de la Reine, a tree-lined, mile long promenade along the bank of the Seine river. This was extended over the next century, and by 1724 had become a fashionable promenade of 2.2km, the length it is today.

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel