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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Champs-Elysées in Paris, France is arguably the most famous road in the world. This avenue in the city’s eighth arrondissement stretches for 1.9 kilometers from Place Charles de Gaulle, with the Arc de Triomphe, to the Place de la Concorde, with its Luxor Obelisk . The avenue is about 70 meters wide. It is well-known for its luxury stores, theaters, and cafés, most of which are found at its western end, near the Place Charles de Gaulle. The eastern end is bordered by the Jardins des Champs-Elysées. These gardens are home to the Grand and Petit Palais and several restaurants, and consist of beautifully landscaped gardens with fountains. Another building in the gardens is the Elysée Palace, which has been the home of the French President since 1873.
The name Champs-Elysées is French for ‘Elysian Fields’, which, in Greek mythology, was the paradise for fallen heroes.
HistoryThe area where the Champs-Elysées now lies was nothing more than fields outside the Paris city center in the 16th century. The first road or, rather, path was built in 1616 by orders of Marie de Medici, who wanted a long tree-lined walk path east of the Tuileries Palace. The path was completely redesigned by the brilliant landscape architect, André le Nôtre, in 1667. He made it an extension of the Tuileries Garden, which he had previously redesigned as well, for King Louis XIV. The new promenade, lined with two rows of elm trees and flowerbeds, got a new name: Grande Allée du Roule or Grand-Cours. It was still mainly a walking area, with very few buildings. The name was changed to Champs-Elysées in 1709, derived from the Greek Elysium, the afterlife of heroes.
The avenue was extended to Chaillot Hill, now known as Place d’Etoile, the site of the Arc de Triomphe, in the beginning of the 18th century. In the course of that century, the Champs-Elysées became a fashionable boulevard, lined with lawns and large trees forming formal rectangles. These gardens were backed by the gardens of the houses of the Parisian nobility. The absolute grandest of all buildings in the area was the Elysée Palace, which became the official residence of the French Presidents.
After the fall of Napoleon, the parks had to be renovated and the trees replanted, because the armies of Russia, Prussia, and England had camped in the gardens and used the trees for firewood. Between 1828 and 1838, the Champs-Elysées became property of the city. Many improvements were made, such as footpaths, fountains, and gas lights. The gardens became an outdoor amusement park, with a theater, two restaurants, a summer garden café, and a hall for entertainment, music, and circus performances. The avenue’s one major landmark, the Arc de Triomphe, was completed in 1836. The gardens became home to the Grand and Petit Palais.
In the 20th century, the Champs-Elysées began to attract more and more restaurants and shops, especially after the completion of the metro station at Place d’Etoile.
The latest redesign took place in 1994, when the side streets became pedestrianized, new trees were planted, and an underground parking lot was built.
The avenue has been the site for many parades in the course of its history. Less happy ones were the victory parades of the Germans in 1871 and in 1940, while France was ecstatic after the victories in 1919 and 1944.
Visiting the Champs-ElyséesThe magnificent avenue can easily be reached by metro. There are four stations along the Champs-Elysées: Champs-Elysées-Clémenceau, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George V, and Charles de Gaulle.
This is probably the best place for window-shopping in France and definitely one of the most famous fashion avenues in the world. Upscale stores lining the Champs-Elysées are Benetton, Sephora; Cartier, Louis Vuitton; Lacoste, Hugo Boss; etcetera. Renting a building or space at the Champs-Elysées is extremely expensive, which is why very few people live on the avenue. Almost all buildings are occupied by either stores or offices.
Many major annual events take place there every year. The biggest one is without question the military parade on Bastille Day , July 14, which is the largest military parade in Europe. During the winter holidays, the Champs-Elysées is lined with cozy Christmas markets and is filled with partiers on New Year’s Eve. Also, each year, the last stage of the Tour de France finishes on the Champs-Elysées. Many other historic events have been celebrated on this iconic avenue, but it has also been a gathering place for political protesters.
Similar and Nearby LandmarksParis is all about grandeur and there are many other major landmarks to be found: the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame de Paris, The Louvre, the Tuileries Garden, and the Hôtel de Ville.
Other famous streets elsewhere in the world are La Rambla in Barcelona, Broadway and Fifth Avenue in New York City, Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, Abbey Road in London and Khao San Road in Bangkok.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Dec 22, 2014