Paris car ban on Champs-Elysees begins in battle against pollution

Nine new routes will also be pedestrianised every Sunday and public holiday

Peter Yeung
Monday 09 May 2016 00:34
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People gather on the Champs-Elysees boulevard in Paris
People gather on the Champs-Elysees boulevard in Paris

A monthly ban on cars has come into force along Paris's Champs-Elysees for the first time under new environmental plans.

Sunday saw the inaugural pedestrian-only day on one of the most famous streets in the world, as part of a scheme to tackle the French capital’s growing pollution problems.

Anne Hidalgo, the city's mayor, said: "Every foreign tourist who comes to Paris naturally wants to visit the Champs-Elysees. But we want to bring Parisians back to this emblematic place which belongs to them.

"When you walk on the avenue without the din of traffic, you rediscover perspective, the facades, the scenery."

Cars will be banned from the 1.2-mile street on the first Sunday of every month, when museums in Paris are also free to the public.

Nine new routes will also be pedestrianised every Sunday and public holiday – adding to the 13 already subject to traffic restrictions under the “Paris Respire” anti-pollution programme.

The boulevard attracts an average of 300,000 visitors every day, including many tourists. Vast crowds gather there for special occasions, when the road is also closed to traffic, including for New Year celebrations.

The World Health Organisation says fine-particle air pollution is responsible for about 42,000 premature deaths in France each year.

The new measures in Paris are largely the result of a successful car-free Sunday in the city on 27 September last year. Between 9am and 4pm cars were banned in some key areas of the city, including the Champs-Elysees.

According to air quality network Airpartif, which monitors pollution levels in Paris, there was a 40 per cent drop in harmful exhaust emissions in parts of the city.

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