Friday, 12 September 2014


The Avenue des Champs-Elysées is probably the most famous avenue in the world.

In the sixteenth century this area was nothing but fields outside the center of Paris. In 1616 Marie de Medicis decided to create a long tree-lined path going east from the Tuileries. The route was redesigned in 1667 by renowned landscape designer André Le Nôtre as an extension of the Jardins des Tuileries. The promenade, now called 'Grande Allée du Roule' or 'Grand-Cours' had become a fashionable place but was still isolated from the city with few buildings surrounding the area. 

Twenty-seven years later the promenade was renamed to 'Champs-Elysées', or Elysian Fields in English. The name was derived from Greek mythology where 'Elusia' is a place where heroes come to relax.

In 1724 the Champs-Elysées was extended all the way to the Chaillot hill (now known as l'Etoile, the site of the Arc de Triomphe). Its current form took shape in 1838 when French architect Ignaz Hittorf - who was redesigning the Place de la Concorde - created the Jardins des Champs-Elysées. He also installed sidewalks, gas lamps and fountains. The Champs-Elysées started to attract more and more restaurants and hotels, especially after 1900 when the Paris metro line nr 1 reached the Etoile station.

The Champs-Elysées draws a perfectly straight line from the Louvre, through the Tuilerie Gardens and the Place Concord, bisects the Arche de Triomphe where it becomes the avenue de la Grande Armée, and culminates at the base of the modern Arche de la Défence.

You can exit the Louvre and retire to the park to recover. Within the park you will discover that there are cafés and benches to use to take a break as well as the popular central fountain where you can try to snag the metal chairs people use to sunbathe in.

The remainder of the Champs-Elysées begins a series of cafés, shops, restaurants and movie theaters which end at the giant arch. The class of the fin de siecle is gone, but two famous café/restaurants continue to draw admirers. The Ladurée is a café monument to the elegance of 19th century, whereas Fouquet's (no pun intended) with its distinct red awnings draws a trendier crowd to a very similar atmosphere.

It is lined with restaurants (Hard Rock Café, l’Atelier Renault, Ledoyen etc.), luxury boutiques (Louis Vuitton, Mont-Blanc, Guerlain, Ferrari etc.), flagship stores (Banana Republic, Abercrombie, Sephora etc.) and nightclubs.

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