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Parisian walkway idea for St Leonard’s Place in York
A STREET in York city centre will be transformed into a Parisian boulevard as part of the celebrations around the Tour de France next summer.
The greatest cyclists in the world will take to the streets of Yorkshire next July for the Grand Depart, the race’s opening stage, and York Theatre Royal, the Yorkshire Air Museum and Marie Curie Cancer Care want to make St Leonard’s Place in York feel more like France.
The scheme, which has the working title of Boulevard St Leonard, aims to “recreate a Parisian boulevard in the heart of the city”, said a spokesman for the partnership.
He said it would reflect York’s French connections “in an atmospheric, cultural and entertaining way”.
A new play, called Cis & Barbische Barbiche will be performed by the theatre, based on recently discovered letters of Francis Usai – a French airman based near York during the Second World War – to his girlfriend Barbara Harper-Nelson.
The spokesman said: “On November 2, 1944 he wrote ‘In seventy years’ time, they will talk about Barbiche who saw England invaded by all those odd strangers who stole young girls’ hearts, and perhaps they will say it with a little regret in their heart’.”
The plans also include decoration of St Leonard’s Place in a French style, including a pavement café extension from York Theatre Royal, live street music, artists and entertainment.
A full-size vintage aircraft, in French colours will also be placed on the roof of the Theatre Royal café, and a special audiovisual installation by award-winning artist Lee Lewis called Maintenant (translation, Now), will mix the sounds of York and Paris throughout the transformation.
On July 2, Le Grand Bal des Officiers Français 1944-2014 will be held at the De Grey Rooms – a ball in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care, the Tour’s authorised charity.
The spokesman said: “Located where the French officers originally danced the nights away exactly 70 years ago, this is the only key celebration event planned for the city centre to date and is expected to be attended by many well-known celebrities.”
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