Nov 1, 2023
In a press conference held on the morning of Monday October 30 at the Barrière Le Fouquet’s hotel in Paris, Marc-Antoine Jamet, president of the Champs-Elysées Committee, presented the renowned Parisian thoroughfare’s new look. Starting from its illuminations for the festive season, shining with a new three-stage rhythm, and including many other novelties like a new logo and visual identity, four new promotional posters and revamped terraces.
The Champs-Elysées, Paris’s most famous, 2.6-kilometre-long avenue, is having a make-over ahead of the Olympic Games, which will be staged in the French capital next summer. The avenue will be an extraordinary setting for many events, and will host the beach volleyball stadium in the Champs de Mars area, as well as the Paralympic Games’ opening ceremony, scheduled on August 28 2024 between place de la Concorde and the lower end of the Champs-Elysées.
In order to be ready for next summer’s sport extravaganza – which notably means that the official Paris Fashion Week calendar has been modified – the Champs-Elysées is dressing up to the nines. The ceremonial switching-on of the avenue’s Christmas and New Year illuminations will take place on November 19 from 6 pm CET.
Redesigned, less energy-intensive lights
After French celebrities Tahar Rahim, Clara Luciani and Louane, “this year, actor Gilles Lellouche will light up the Champs-Elysées,” said Jamet. “An international star and cheeky Parisian wit,” Lellouche has a long list of impressive credits, from Little White Lies to Kompromat, to the last instalment in the adventures of Asterix and Obelix released this year, and box-office success The Stronghold.
Lellouche will switch on the illuminations bedecking the 400 trees that line the Champs-Élysées together with various institutional figures and, a first for 2023, with three children supported by Petits Princes, a French charitable association whose mission is to realise the dreams of gravely ill children. “It will be a magical moment for them,” said Matthieu Jeanningros, head of communications at the association, a partner of the Champs-Elysées.
The avenue’s trees will light up every evening from November 19 until January 7 2024, from 5 pm CET to midnight. French company Blachere Illuminations is again in charge of installing and operating this year’s illuminations, whose lights will shine at a more sustained, three-stage rhythm. “Every quarter hour, the lights will shine more powerfully, and their flickering rhythm will change every five minutes,” said Jamet. “The well-known champagne-coloured garlands of light stand for sparkling champagne and the glittering Eiffel Tower, two of Paris’s icons,” added Jamet.
The avenue’s festive lighting, which was officially switched off for the first time last year by French pop singer Louane, is notable for its low energy consumption. Total consumption in 2023 is estimated at about 13,300 kWh, slightly higher than last year’s 11,500 kWh, since the avenue will be illuminated one week longer this year.
“Our strength is being able to illuminate the avenue, the Arc de Triomphe and an Egyptian obelisk,” said Jamet, adding that the illuminations’ energy consumption is “equivalent to that of a family of 4 people.” In the last 16 years, while the number of lights has grown seven-fold, overall electricity consumption has decreased by 98%, thanks to the switch from light bulbs to LEDs.
New slogan, new visual identity
This winter, the Champs-Elysées has a new slogan for its festive lighting event, emphasising the lustre given to the city by its most popular avenue: “Illuminons l’avenue, faisons briller Paris,” (let’s light up the avenue, make Paris shine). For the occasion, the committee presented four promotional posters designed by creative agency Monsieur Stan. They are inspired by romantic pictures of kissing couples, like Alfred Eisenstaedt’s ‘VJ Day in Times Square’, and French photographer Robert Doisneau’s Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville. “The pictures portray four different young couples kissing,” said Jamet. The couples are perfectly in focus, while the slightly blurred background subtly emphasises the avenue’s glittering lights.
“This year, we are trying to do more, especially in promotional terms, so that the event will be widely popular,” said Jamet. Major renovation work has been undertaken, and several new features will be introduced, to bring Parisians back to the most attractive avenue in France, still mostly frequented by tourists. The committee’s ‘Key to the Champs’ plan involves “a big effort to make [the Champs-Elysées] Parisian, popular and for everyone,” said Jamet.
With the same goal of enhancing the avenue’s look for the Olympic Games next summer, the Champs-Elysées Committee presented a new visual identity featuring “more modern, more engaging graphics in a classic blue, white and red palette,” and a new logo characterised by pictograms that change according to the promotional theme.
Among the plethora of innovations and novelties presented on Monday by the Champs-Elysées Committee, Jamet also noted the make-over of the avenue’s terraces, some of which are currently set out rather haphazardly. The redesigned terraces will feature bottle-green gazebos and will have a uniform look colour-wise. They are expected to be ready by April 1 2024.
“The 17 terraces will be given a new look by Belgian designer Ramy Fischer. Those that were set perpendicular to the avenue will run parallel with it, and they’ll all be aligned. The idea is to ensure that people in wheelchairs will no longer have to zigzag along the avenue like today, and [the redesign] will also allow the Champs-Elysées to be more pleasant and just as aesthetically and commercially efficient as Italian-style pedestrian avenues,” said Jamet.
Champs-Elysées always busy and attractive
The Champs-Elysées are often regarded as extremely polluted, stressful, poorly set out, and less and less popular with Parisians, more like an urban motorway. In 2022, under the aegis of the Champs-Élysées Committee and the City of Paris, the avenue embarked on a comprehensive transformation project, aiming to become enchanting again. The goal is to redevelop and upgrade “the world’s most beautiful avenue” by introducing new green spaces and pedestrian areas, and repaving its walkways with Tarn granite.
“In the last two years, nearly €30 million have been invested,” according to Jamet. He said he is happy that the redevelopment is proving successful, as shown by the avenue’s thriving footfall, its 180 business establishments giving it a “village feel.” “The avenue is doing very well, it’s buoyant, it has 150,000 daily visitors, and more than 250,000 on Sundays,” he said. “At Monopoly, it would be worth more than €18 billion,” Jamet quipped.
Jamet emphasised that the avenue “is always a mix, a blend of many different players.” There are cultural spaces, like the Grand Palais currently being renovated, restaurants, food shops, “sportswear retailers making their come-back, like JD Sports,” which will open a store at 118 Champs-Elysées, international retailers opening new flagships, like Sephora‘s at number 70-72, and a strong presence of luxury labels such as Louis Vuitton, which has set up shop in a huge building at number 103, taking over premises previously occupied by the Compagnie des Wagons-Lits.
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