In his 2008 campaign, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë proposed to renovate the Place de la République. His goal was to make the square the symbol the French people had expected it to be.

While running for re-election, Bertrand Delanoë, the mayor of the city of Paris, said that he “wanted to put beauty, the values of the Republic, and a joie de vivre at the heart of this transformation.” To do so, the square would become predominantly pedestrian in order to highlight the square’s symbolism and the centrality of the statue of Marianne. This rethinking of the Place de la République would allow people to take ownership of the square and transform it into a place where they could enjoyably spend time.

The project consisted of transforming the square into a pedestrian zone where 70% of the square itself would be restricted to pedestrian traffic. Vehicular traffic around the square would be heavily restricted without compromising pedestrians’ use of the area.

Pedestrianization of the place
Pedestrianization project of the Place de la République

The statue was also to be cleaned of the graffiti it had accumulated over the years. As part of a green initiative, trees were to be planted to provide some shade during summer, and a reflecting pool would be installed.

The pedestrian area would even have its very own newsstand and café. About 20 wooden benches were designed especially for the Place de la République and would be installed across the square to allow people to stop and relax as they cross the square or even to come with the specific purpose of hanging out. Since then, the use of the place has widely changed.

In 2010, Paris’s City Council accepted the proposal and allocated 12 million euros for the renovation of the Place de la République, which began immediately. Three years later, the reconfiguration of the square was finished.