A controversial plan to build a motorway along the Left Bank of the seine past Notre Dame Cathedral has been shelved by President Valery Giscard D'Estaing, in what has been heralded as a victory for environmentalists.
GV PAN Ile de la Cite PAN ACROSS River Seine to Left Bank
SV PAN FROM Left Bank TO Notre Dame Cathedral
SV's Artists painting stall
SV Riverside painting stall
CU Old man seated beside painting stall
LV Traffic along Left Bank
GV Traffic down expressway and along left Bank (4 shots)
SV Sign "Construction of Left Bank Expressway"
GV Idle construction site along Left Bank (2 shots)
SV Construction workers beside machines
GV Mounds of rock and rubble beside river (2 shots)
GV Construction materials on road route
SV Defoliated trees on road route
SV Mounds of rubble (2 shots)
LV Idle bulldozer
GV Construction site seen from Right Bank
LV and SV partially completed expressway
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Background: A controversial plan to build a motorway along the Left Bank of the seine past Notre Dame Cathedral has been shelved by President Valery Giscard D'Estaing, in what has been heralded as a victory for environmentalists.
The proposed expressway - intended to speed cars through the centre of Paris - would have destroyed some of the quays on the Seine which have become the haunts of Bohemian parisians, artists and tourists.
M. Giscard D'Estaing quashed the expressway section opposite Notre Dame by recommending that his government withold about 40 pe cent of the aid it had promised - in effect starving the project of 175 million frances (GBP 17.5 million sterling).
The original aim of the project was to provide a fast east-west road through the centre of Paris connecting with a multi-lane motorway - the Boulevard Peripherique or Ring Road - round the edge of the capital.
The Right Bank expressway is already finished and carries traffic from West to East. But opponents of the Left Bank route pointed out that the Right Bank expressway was jammed solid during rush hours.
The new French President's action has thus reversed a cherished policy of his predecessor, the late President Georges Pompidou, that "Paris must adapt to the automobile".
M. Giscard D'Estaing's views are crucial, since French Presidents usually have the final say on the future shape of Paris. Already, he has established the basic principle that state aid should be given only to Paris road projects that do not risk harming the environment.
The Notre Dame section of the Left Bank motorway was to dive underground as it approached the eastern end of the Ile de la Cite, where Notre Dame stands, surface just after passing the cathedral, then go underground again as it passed the western tip of the island.
The cobbled quays over the underground route - at preset a mecca for street artists - would have been demolished and rebuilt, while it would still have been possible to stroll along the quayside it would no longer have been possible to walk along the river without interruption, not to mention the roar of the expressway traffic.
The new French President has preserved a virtually sacred porion on Paris. But the nightmare problems of how to drive from one side of Paris to the other remains to be solved.