June 1, 2010 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
In 1828, when Paris lit the Champs Elysées with gas lamps earning the nickname La Ville-Lumière, or City of Lights, had it instead lined the street with plants, it might have become known as The City of Plants. During the weekend of May 21-23, Nature Capitale, part of International Biodiversity Day, installed 8000 planted plots on the Champs Elysées, a celebration of nature and biodiversity. Among the offerings–which were all for sale:
- 152,009 plants in the forest exhibition
- 54,912 varieties of Mediterranean forest seedlings
- 51,909 varieties of continental forest seedlings
- 28,028 varieties of mountain forest seedlings
- 17,160 varieties of Atlantic forest plants
The Champs Elysées is home to one of a myriad of fantastic Parisian urban gardens: In 1858, under Napoléon III, Jean-Charles Alphand developed the Jardins des Champs Elysees into an English-styled garden with large lawns and rare trees.
Before 1616 when Marie de Medicis created the long tree-lined pathway along Elysian Fields, now known as the Avenue des Champs Elysées, the area was just fields and vegetable gardens outside of city walls. The route was redesigned in 1667 by renowned landscape designer André Le Nôtre as an extension of the Jardins des Tuileries, where he had followed his father as head gardener. By 1724, the avenue of trees had become the elegant 2.2 kilometer (1.36 mile) long walking promenade it is today.
hat-tip to supereco