The Greening of the Champs Elysees

The busiest, most trafficked avenue in the French capital, Paris, was transformed overnight recently into a bucolic, country setting that celebrated France's tradition of farming and highlighting an agricultural sector in peril. The Champs Elysees - or Elysian Fields - became a true elysian field for several days in late May, 2010.

The cars that speed through the tree lined boulevard were diverted and three-quarters of a mile of the thoroughfare (from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde) was covered with 8,000 'plots of earth' and 150,000 plants. Sheep, pigs and cattle were also on hand.

This event, staged by the young farmers' union and Gad Weil, an outdoor events planner, was called Nature Capitale. It is a biodiversity project conceived by Weil who called it, "the biggest plant sale in the world."

The horticultural and agricultural spectacle attracted hordes of people and featured truckloads of produce from all over France and a vast array of flora symbolizing France's biodiversity.

 Much like a Christo undertaking, 152,009 tree seedlings were planted to create the forest display of Nature Capitale. Also, visitors could buy plants and produce and taste regional specialities. One day they had a mass barbecue organised by Paris butchers.

For the 55,000 members of the young farmers' union, the event had a serious purpose. Their revenue has fallen steeply and they want to make people aware of their plight and appreciate the heritage of France's remarkable fresh produce and meats.

Bonne chance!


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