Can the Mayor of Paris Save the ‘Champs’?


Marinette has reminded me that ‘Le Figaro’ is not the ONLY newspaper in town. So, I need to spend a little more time reading “Le Monde” A recent editorial (24 Dec) suggests that unless the Paris’s mayor, Bertrand Delanoe can succeed in saving the Champs Elysees from ‘banalisation’ which one might translate as ho-hum cookie cutter outright commercialisation, the Champs will go the way of Left Bank Boulevard St. Michel – or ‘St. Mich’. Already, according to Le Monde, the number of movie theaters has diminished since 1985. What you see nowadays on the Champs are glossy mega stores that make Le Drugstore days of the seventies and eighties look similar to a quaint fifties diner. It is getting harder and harder for movie theaters and restaurants to compete for the prime real estate – but it’s the restaurants and theaters that bring life to the avenue. Of course, those in the retail trade may insist that nowadays shopping is the entertainment. For many of us, a walk down the avenue is more about window shopping especially at the outrageous prices. We might marvel at what we see, but I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people strolling along the Champs rarely buy – and although it’s nice for a bank to boast their address on the Champs, it doesn’t make for a pleasant walking experience admire the bank buildings. For real ‘shopping’ there are plenty of more interesting parts of town. I’m not sure whether the Champs can be saved at this point. It may have already lost its soul. Lucky for the Champs that it still has the Arc de Triomphe – at least that’s one monument that can’t be turned into a bank or a handbag emporium.

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