Champs Élysées is a prestigious and broad avenue in Paris, considered to be the most beautiful in the world. This 1.25 mile stretch is the second most expensive real estate in the world after New York’s Fifth Avenue and is lined with luxury boutiques, specialty shops, cinemas, cafés, and high-end restaurants. Chain stores, even luxurious ones, in fact are restricted from setting up shop on this elite strip.
Since the homecoming of Napoléon’s body from St. Helena in 1840, the Avenue des Champs Élysées has also been known as the “triumphal way”. The Avenue des Champs Élysées or “Triumphal way” runs from the Place de la Concorde in the east to the Arc de Triomphe in the west and makes up the major part of the Axe Historique or Historical Axis – this is the name given to the line of monuments, buildings, and thoroughfares that run along the Champs Élysées and extends past the Arc de Triomphe towards La Défense.
The Champs Élysées was originally laid out in the 1660s by Marie de Medici’s landscape gardener, André Le Nôtre, when he extended the royal view from the Jardins des Tuileries by creating a tree-lined avenue. This street became a fashionable localé by the late 1700s. And in the late 19th century, the addition of cafés and restaurants transformed the avenue into the most posh boulevard in Paris and one of the city’s principal tourist destinations. Because of its entrance to the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Élysées has also become a popular center of city celebrations and parades like Armistice Day or Bastille Day, not to mention its role as the last leg in the Tour de France bike race.
Today, the avenue is lined with trees, refurbished Art Nouveau newsstands, and boutique storefronts. The strip is popular among wealthy locals as a shopping district and among tourists who, even if they forgo the splurging on expensive name brands, enjoy the window-browsing and pigging out at some of the boulevard’s nice patisseries and chic restaurants.
Besides the shops, cafés, and restaurants of Champs Élysées, there are various other attractions along the stretch. The avenue begins at the Place de la Concorde, which itself is home to the Musée du Jeu de Paume (an exhibition on contemporary photography and multimedia) and the Musée de l’Orangerie. The Grand Palais is also along the avenue, and the Palais de l’Élysée is only one block away from the avenue, though technically in the Faubourg St Honoré quarters. The avenue ends at Place Charles de-Gaulle where you’ll find the Arc de Triomphe landmark.