Iconic landmarks along the Champs Elysees

Champs Elysees, the most famous avenue in the world, links the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe.

Terraced cafe on Champs Elysees
Terraced cafe on Champs Elysees

You can discover it at your pace, as it is now pedestrian on the first Sunday of each month.

Stroll along and discover the superb buildings that border it, such as the Hotel Païva at no25.

The best artists of the time built and decorated this elegant mansion in the 1850’s.

Stop for a drink in one of the prestigious cafes or restaurants such as the Fouquet’s (official site).

Treat yourself to delicious macarons at Ladurée’s (official site).

Shopping is important, and the Avenue is home to several high end luxury boutiques.

Impossible to name them all, but you’ll want to stop at no101, Louis Vuitton’s prestigious flagship store.

You’ll find the magnificent Guerlain flagship boutique on the opposite pavement at no68 and Chanel Beauté at no52.

Laduree on Champs Elysees
Laduree on Champs Elysees

The C42, the unusual flagship showroom of the car manufacturer Citroën at no42 won’t leave you indifferent!

The former Claridge Hôtel is at no74.

Built during WWI, it later became an exclusive shopping mall.

Banks, cinemas and fast-food restaurants appeared in the last 30 years.

Among them you’ll find the largest McDonald’s in the world at no140.

It has an area of 1370m² spread over two floors, including a terrace of 50m2 and a capacity of 380 seats!

Its has an annual turnover of over €13.5 million and over 1.825 million customers.

Finally, the Avenue des Champs Elysees is ‘only’ the 3rd most expensive in the world after the 5th Avenue in New York and Causeway Bay in Hong Kong!

However, it’s the most expensive street in Europe when it comes to rents.

The average asking price indeed reaches 13,255€ per m2; the side with even numbers, the sunniest, is the most expensive!

When was the Avenue des Champs Elysees built?

The beautiful Avenue des Champs Elysees was opened in 1670, when Louis XIV commissioned the landscape architect Le Nôtre with the creation of the Tuileries Gardens.

Entrance Hotel Marcle Dassault on Champs Elysees
Entrance Hotel Marcle Dassault

Le Nôtre opened the Grand Cours, as it was then known, in the extension of the central lane of the Tuileries Garden.

He planted a double row of elms on each side up to the level of the current Rue Marboeuf.

He also designed the Rond-Point des Champs Elysees.

At that time, however, the now prestigious avenue was a muddy lane that ran through woods, swamps and fields!

Building sites and materials yards still occupied the river bank and the place was so gloomy that Parisians wouldn’t venture there at night…

In 1774 the Marquis de Marigny commissioned the architect Gabriel with the enlargement and elongation of the Grand Cours up to the current Place Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile.

Boutique Guerlain
Boutique Guerlain

The development of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré (parallel to the Champs Elysees) triggered the appearance of cafes, restaurants, dance halls, game rooms, theatres and circuses along the ‘Avenue’.

This led to its embellishment in the 1820’s.

Fountains, statues and gas lamps were therefore installed along the woody alleyways that served the prestigious mansions, elegant restaurants and entertainment establishments.

You’ll still find several theatres and restaurants along the woody alleyway.

It was only then that the avenue became the meeting point of the Parisian high society.

Such a prestigious avenue therefore needed a prestigious name…

In Greek mythology the Elysium was the Eden where the virtuous souls came to rest!

Avenue des Champs Elysees

A pair of equestrian statues flank the entrance to the Champs Elysees on Place de la Concorde.

Chevaux de Marly on Champs Elysees
Chevaux de Marly

These statues, known as Chevaux de Marly, are replicas.

Coustou carved the originals which are on display in the Louvre.

These were fortunately rescued from  the chateau de Marsy, near Versailles, while it was pulled down during the French Revolution.

From Place de la Concorde, the ‘Avenue’ runs between shaded side paths and gardens.

The Avenue Gabriel delineate those on the north side.

The Petit Palais and Grand Palais delienate the Champs Elysees from the river.

You then arrive at the Rond-Point des Champs Elysees.

Rond-Point des Champs Elysees

The gigantic roundabout is landscaped with lush flowerbeds.

Boutique Lancel on Champs Elysees
Boutique Lancel on Champs Elysees

It marks the convergence of Avenue Franklin-Roosevelt,  Champs Elysees, Avenue Montaigne, Avenue Matignon and Rue Jean Mermoz.

It was officially renamed the Rond-Point des Champs Elysees-Marcel Dassault in 1991.

Marcel Dassault bought the Hôtel d’Espeyran at no.7 Rond-Point des Champs Elysees in the early 1950’s.

The mansion, built in 1888, houses Artcurial, an auction house exclusively dedicated to art.

Luxury boutiques, shops, cinemas and terraced restaurants and cafes are located on the section located between the roundabout and the Arc de Triomphe.

Bastille Day Parade

The Avenue of the Champs Elysees is not only dedicated to luxury boutiques.

It is also the official venue for the annual military parade that takes place on 14th July.

Bastille Day celebrates the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution.

It is a good idea to arrive very early in order to secure a front row spot along the avenue.

Bastille Day Celebrations on Champs Elysees
Bastille Day Celebrations

This spectacular parade begins at the Arc de Triomphe.

French and foreign guest regiments march down towards the Place de la Concorde, where they split in front of the grandstand set up there for the occasion.

As they reached the square, they are greeted by the President of the Republic who stands there with his French and foreign guests of honour.

A garden party takes place in the gardens of the Elysée Palace after the parade.

Quatorze Juillet – as it known in France – is a major public holiday.

The celebration is associated with fire works and the Bal du Quatorze Juillet, a street ball that takes place in each French village and town on the Friday night.

Directions: 8th District
Metro: Concorde, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Champs-Elysées-Etoile on Line 1
Coordinates Champs Elysees: Lat 48.873360 – Long 2.296368

Photo Wikimedia Commons: Bastille day Parade in the Public Domain

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