If the Eiffel Tower is considered the calling card of France, the Champs Elysees are called the symbol of Paris. All important events, from the Bastille parade to carnivals and sports marathons, take place on the country’s most fashionable street. The place is crowded day and night. Locals gather in the many cafes to socialize, and tourists tend to come here to touch the history.
Where did the name come from?
Until the 16th century, the nobility came to the outskirts of the French capital to hunt ducks. Later there was laid a pedestrian road and gradually began to improve the park area.
But the name Champs Elysees came much later, in 1789, during the French Revolution. The rioters felt that the park, which the street had already become, was a worthy resting place for the heroes who gave their lives for freedom.
The shady alleys were compared to the Greek Elysium (Blessed Hills), an ancient paradise where the most revered Hellenes rested from earthly anxieties and enjoyed eternal bliss.
The name Champs-Elysees caught on. Despite the fact that now, instead of “paradise” – alleys with paths and shady trees – this street has many houses and asphalt pavement, it has maintained its uniqueness and can be considered a place of rest.
General information about the Paris landmark
The axis of the street is the Chans-Elysées highway. It conventionally divides it into a modern part with boutiques and a walking area reminiscent of paradise.
How the Champs-Elysées appeared – the history of the attraction
In 1616. Marie de Medici decided that the place would be called the Boulevard de la Reine, and ordered a road to be built from the Tuileries Garden, on which carriages could ride. And by the 18th century, the construction of Versailles palaces began at the end of the “thoroughfare.” Once the yard moved there, the street was planted with elms and declared a walking area.
According to the description of the Russian writer Nikolai Karamzin, who traveled through Europe in 1789-1790, Chans-Elysées is a small forest with places equipped for recreation and many cafes. It is even difficult to imagine that in the late 18th century the place was so dangerous that in 1777 they put a guard post there.
The prosperity of the boulevard began during the reign of Napoleon.
Many places of entertainment were built here, the sidewalk was renewed, the sidewalk was replaced with asphalt, and lighting was installed. From this period, the Champs Elysees began to host Paris exhibitions and events of world significance.
Length of the avenue
The length of the street is 1.9 km, more precisely 1 km 915 m. The width is 71 m.
Photo of the Champs Elysees
It is impossible to describe the famous Paris boulevard, named after the ancient Greek paradise, from a single photo. It is a lively street with cafes and stores, a park area, and many attractions – including. a monument to Georges Clemenceau.
Remembering a trip to France, tourists will look at many photos of different genres. And all of them have such different Elysian Fields on them.
Two sides of the famous avenue
The street is divided into a recreation area with shady alleys and a roadway with sidewalks, a shopping center and boutiques, where the world’s largest firms exhibit their products.
The length of the walking park zone is 700 m, width – 300 m. It is located between two squares – Concord and Circular. In the “business” part of the street luxury stores, car dealerships, cinemas, cafes, restaurants.
The main attractions of the Champs Elysees
The buildings and constructions of Paris’ most popular boulevard are known far beyond its borders, but to appreciate their grandeur, it is better to admire them in the evening – in the glitter of lights.
Arc de Triomphe
The history of the religious building began in 1805. Napoleon I ordered the urgent erection of a monumental structure in honor of the victory at Austerlitz.
At first they decided to start building on Place de la Bastille. It was then moved to the western part of the Chans-Elysées, so that the monument could be seen from the windows of the Tuileries Palace.
The first stone was laid on 15.08.1806, the Emperor’s birthday, and the idea was taken from the Roman architects.
The erection of the arch was delayed, and the architects began to change:
- First the author of the idea, Jean-François Chalgren, was invited.
- After his death in 1811, his pupil, Louis-Robert Gost, undertook the work.
- From 1814 to 1823, during the reign of Louis XVIII, construction was suspended.
- In 1823 it was decided to finish the monument, but the purpose of the erection changed. They decided to dedicate it to the army of the Pyrenees. New architects were invited – Louis-Robert Gost and Jean-Nicolas Guyot. They decided to add two more columns.
- In 1824 a new monarch, Charles X, came to power and proposed a return to the first draft.
- In 1826 a whole commission of architects was assembled to approve the decorations.
- In 1832, the construction was completed by Guillaume-Abel Blouet.
On the walls of the columns of the Arc de Triomphe are many bas-reliefs depicting the victories of Napoleon’s army. But the main popularity of the monument is due to the observation deck. It is allowed to go up the stairs or the elevator. From the roof you can see the panoramas of the Champs-Elysées and the Place de Triomphe, consider the Montparnasse Tower and the Louvre.
Where the idea of creating a pompous building came from is unknown. It was built in the 18th century by the Count of Hervé. It was then acquired by the famous favorite of King Louis XV, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, better known as Madame de Pompadour, who bequeathed her property to the royal lover.
From then on, the palace was used for ritual purposes – spiritualistic séances were held there. The next owner was the banker Beaujon, who sold the building to the Countess of Bourbon.
After the French Revolution, the building was downgraded to a dance hall, but then its royal origins were remembered and returned to its former rank.
From 1873 it was home to members of the French elite:
- Charles de Gaulle;
- Georges Pompidou;
- François Mitterrand;
- Jacques Chirac, etc.
It is only permitted to view the religious building from the outside, except on the third Sunday in September. This is Cultural Heritage Day, when the government opens the doors of its residence to the general public.
The Small and Large Palaces
The origin of the buildings is not as old as the already described attractions. They were built from 1897 to 1900, not for royalty, but for the World’s Fair. The palaces are located between Place de la Concorde and the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysees Hotel, in front of the Alexander III Bridge.
The exhibition was over, but the buildings were not turned over to individuals. In the Petit Palais founded the Museum of Painting, where you can get acquainted with the works of the famous Impressionists, Dutch paintings of the XVII century, paintings by artists of France, old engravings, tapestries and manuscripts. Allowed to visit the winter garden, relax, having a snack in the cafe.
The Grand Palais is interesting as an architectural structure. The tall building has a multifaceted glass lantern-shaped roof. The walls are decorated with a mosaic of colored glass.
- in the southern part is the Russian-language faculty of the Sorbonne;
- in the west wing is the science museum.
Fashion shows are constantly being held in the central halls. There are also art exhibitions with interchangeable expositions.
The Place de la Concorde was designed by Jacques-Ange Gabriel, personal architect of Louis XV. He suggested giving the square an octagonal shape, and putting the equestrian statue of the monarch in the center. It was opened in 1763 under the name Royal.
But already in 1789 the central monument was replaced by the Statue of Liberty, next to which the guillotine was mounted. The place became known as Revolution Square.
Later, the “death machine” was removed. And the main decoration and attraction of the square is the Luxor Obelisk, a stele of pink granite 23 meters high. This monument was presented to France by the Viceroy of Egypt Mehmet Ali in 1836. In 1999, a tip of real gold appeared on the top of the pillar. They spent 1.5 kilograms of precious metal to make it.
Concord Square is now considered a symbol of the transition from troubled times to a happy future.
In addition to the described sculptures, there are other interesting structures:
- Two fountains – of four rivers and seas. They were designed by architect Jacques-Ignas Gittorf to complete the architectural design of the site once the obelisk is installed.
- Statues representing eight cities of the country: Brest, Bordeaux, Lyon, Lille, Marseille, Nantes, Rouen, Strasbourg.
- A copy of the sculptural group, Marley’s Horses. The originals are in the Louvre; it is dangerous to exhibit them outdoors because of the risk of destruction.
It is better to admire the square of Concord in the evening. Its appearance in the lights is simply mesmerizing.
Restaurants and cafes of the Champs Elysees
You can eat inexpensively while strolling along Paris’s most prestigious boulevard at McDonald’s.
And if you want to enjoy gourmet food, you better visit:
- Ledouayen Restaurant. It opened as early as 1848. Guy de Maupassant and Emile Zola dined here. True, back then it was a coffee shop.
- Cafe Foucault. Charlie Chaplin once had breakfast there.
- Restaurant “Rasputin” with Russian cuisine.
- Cabaret “Lido” for those who like to enjoy the spectacle while eating.
- Pierre Gagnaire, La Fermette Marbeuf and Lasserre are restaurants for lovers of French cuisine.
- Man Ray and Queen Clubs. They open their doors to everyone who wants to get acquainted with the life of Parisian bohemia.
Hotels and hotels on the Champs-Élysées
The cheapest rooms for € 50 offer hotels, located 1 km from the Champs Elysees. Hotels on the boulevard charge from €150 a night at Mathis Elysees Matignon, from €180 at Elysees.
Interesting stores on the Champs Elysees
Tourists flock to the center of Paris, not only to walk and see the sights, but also to shop.
Each outlet has its own specifics:
- Sephora Champs Elysees and Marionnaud Paris are stores of decorative cosmetics and perfumes. Vendors serve in English, Italian, Chinese, Arabic, and French.
- Grand Optical – optics.
- Disney Store – everything for kids. You can talk to the salespeople in English.
- Le Rendez-Vous Toyota, Peugeot Avenue Paris – car dealerships.
- Comptoirs de Paris – jewelry stores.
- Hugo Boss, GAP, H&M, Bel Air, Celio, Milady, Fitch, Banana Republic, Benetton – clothing stores.
The Monoprix supermarket has a wide range of products, you can buy everything there.
Prices in luxury stores are high, so the general public flocks to them during the six-week sales: summer, in late June, and winter, in mid-January.
And to buy budget novelties, tourists are offered to visit the democratic Abercrombie & Fitch. The maximum price for jeans from the new collection in this boutique is €50.
Theaters on the Champs Elysees
Lovers of high art should definitely visit Ron Pointe. It hosts tours of the world’s most famous bands. It is one of the most famous venues for operas, ballets and symphonic concerts.
Light entertainment in Chans-Elyses is provided by the Marigny Music Hall and the cinema in the L´Espase Pierre Carden complex.
How to get to the Champs Elysees in Paris
The central avenue of the French capital, or the broad boulevard, is easiest to reach by subway on line 1.
|Name of lines||Terminal stations|
|1st and 13th||Champs-Elysees – Clemenceau|
|1st, 2nd, 9th||Charles-de-Gaulle – Etoile|
|1st, 9th||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
If you plan to walk, it is better to get off at Charles-de-Gaulle – Etoile, located near the Arc de Triomphe.
Another convenient way to get to the Champs-Elysées is to take the RER commuter train. Routes are not marked with numbers, as in the subway, but in Latin letters. Take line A and get off at the Charles de Gaulle – Etoile stop.
And if you like to look at the hustle and bustle of the city from the window, it is better to order a cab or use public transportation. All buses to Charles de Gaulle airport stop near Chans-Elyses.