Located at the heart of the Louvre and Tuileries National Estate, the Grande Allée is one of the greatest legacies of the Tuileries Garden designed by André Le Nôtre. From 1665, Louis XIV’s landscape architect intended to create a perspective that leads the eye afar, prolonging the view by planting the future Avenue des Champs-Élysées. To the east, the view intersects with the central pavilion of the Tuileries palace, transformed by the architect Louis Le Vau in 1667. Trees were planted in 1668: horse chestnuts on either side, with parallel side aisles.
Over the course of the 18th century, maintaining the trees became problematic. The pruning technique using a hooked blade and trestle ladder made it difficult to reach the highest branches, and some started to bend precariously, creating excess shade and blocking the views towards the Place Louis XV, later re-named Place de la Concorde, to the west and the Tuileries palace to the east. The last trees were cut down at the end of the French Revolution. In 1810, the architects Percier and Fontaine used the enlarged alley to amplify the grandeur of the wedding procession of Napoleon and Marie Louise. Since then, the original width of Le Nôtre’s Grande Allée was lost, resulting in an avenue that is too wide, devoid of vegetation, and offering scant shade and little protection from the wind.
Today, the Musée du Louvre has undertaken an ambitious renovation project of the Grande Allée, with the planting of two rows of elm trees. The goal is to re-establish the layout of the 17th-century garden, thereby spotlighting the grand historical axis of Paris. By providing more cool shade and greenery, the project will offer increased comfort to visitors and boost biodiversity.
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The Musée du Louvre is counting on the generosity of all to raise one million euros before January 15, 2021. The goal is to inaugurate a restored Grande Allée by spring 2021. Every donation, no matter the amount, counts.