The road that highlights this neighborhood, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, has been described as the “most beautiful avenue in the world.” Also referred to as “the world’s most famous avenue,” it is in fact quite picturesque, and it clearly lives up to its reputation as a world-class shopping destination.
However, there is much more to one of Paris’ most exclusive neighborhoods than this famous road: the president of France lives here, the Arc de Triomphe is located at its northwest corner and many of the world’s most talented artists have entertained spectators here for more than 100 years.
Gardens and fields until the 1600s
This area was undeveloped and consisted of gardens and fields until the 1600s. At that time, André Le Nôtre, a landscape architect, designed the laying out of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and its adjacent gardens. This road was originally named the “Grand Promenade” before it took its current name in 1709. Soon thereafter, the thoroughfare was extended to the Place Charles de Gaulle, the location of the Arc de Triomphe.
The French President’s Home
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées started to become known as a fashionable place later that century. The majestic Élysée Palace was built during this time period, in 1722 and has been the president’s official residence since 1848. The building that would later house the luxury Hôtel de Crillon was built in 1758. The location of quite a few interesting historic moments, including the signing of the first treaties between France and the United States in 1778. In 1828, this community became part of Paris, and the city soon added lamps and fountains.
The 1855 world’s fair
The Exposition Universelle, a world’s fair, was held in 1855 in the southeast corner of this neighborhood, where the Grand Palais sits today. That building and the Petit Palais were constructed in 1900, just in time for the Exposition Universelle that was held there later that year.
Celebrations and parades
The Liberation of Paris in 1944 and the Allied victory at the conclusion of World War I are well known mass celebrations of the people that took place on the Champs-Élysées. Other events include France’s win in the 1998 World Cup. The Champs-Élysées is the end of the Tour De France race, as well as the beginning of the Bastille Day Military Parade held on July 14th. Europe’s oldest and largest military parade has taken place here since 1880. The parade route starts at the Arc de Triomphe before finishing at the Place de la Concorde.
About a mile of Avenue des Champs-Élysées
This famous road is 1 mile long, 230 feet wide, lined with trees and packed with many of the world’s most famous shops, several of which offer some pretty prestigious name brands and luxurious items. Although the number of stores that you may want to consider visiting may appear overwhelming at first glance, a few options do stand out, and it’s recommended that you get a good, updated map and stay on foot.
High brands and high prices
Window-shopping at its most grand! It’s worth at least walking by Louis Vuitton’s world flagship store. This famous French fashion house on the Champs-Élysées, which first opened its doors in 1913, entices with its stylishly decorated windows, and customers are known to receive free champagne while making their selections. Other famous fashion houses with stores on the Champs-Élysées include Cartier, Gaultier, Balenciaga, Dior and Gucci.
Sights, scents, and sounds
Swarovski’s flagship jewelry store is also a shopping destination, even if simply to take a look at its famous staircase, which is made of its famed crystal. Meanwhile, if you are looking to get some perfume during your time in Paris, consider visiting Guerlain, one of the world’s oldest perfume houses, dating back to 1828.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a great place to people-watch: Parisians are known for impeccably fashionable style, and that is well-represented on the Avenue. This area is also lovely at night, and the holiday lights are always worth seeing if you’re there between mid-November and New Years.
Arc de Triomphe
Arguably Paris’ second-most iconic monument after the Eiffel Tower. Napoleon oversaw the construction of the Arc de Triomphe from 1806 until his ultimate fall from power in 1815. Work on it recommenced in 1833 under Louis Philippe I, and it was finally completed in 1836. Ever since, the Arc de Triomphe has been a symbol of the French military. As it sits in the middle of one of the world’s oldest and largest roundabouts, access to the Arc de Triomphe is via one of the pedestrian tunnels that run under Place Charles de Gaulle. One of its entrance points is on the end of the Champs Élysées while the other is on the Avenue de la Grande Armée. You can also get to the Arc de Triomphe from the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile Metro station.
An Eternal Tomb
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been located at the Arc de Triomphe since Nov. 10, 1920, and a ceremony is held here on Nov. 11 – Armistice Day – every year. Its eternal flame burns in memory of those who fought in World Wars I and II but were never identified.
A lift in the northeastern leg will take you most of the way up, but the last flight requires climbing 46 steps to get to the very top, where a beautiful panoramic view of the City of Light will await you there.
A Century of Theatre
Many of the world’s most celebrated artists and composers have performed at famous Théâtre des Champs-Élysées since its opening in 1913. More than 200 concerts are held here on an annual basis with most of those being classical music, jazz, opera or dance.
Just 57 days after the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées opened, the famous avant-garde production, “The Rite of Spring,” made its worldwide debut on its stage.
The Maison Blanche is located in the same building if you want to see a world-class production and dine at a gourmet restaurant in the same evening, and The Eiffel Tower can even be viewed from some spots here.
Champs-Élysées is well served by the Paris Métro as Line 1 trains run the length of it, from the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile station beneath the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde five stops to the south east.
Those looking to travel from Charles de Gaulle Airport to the Champs-Élysées can take a RER B train from the airport to Châtelet – Les Halles before walking to the adjacent Châtelet station.
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
Grand Palais – created for the Universal Exposition; the galeries nationales and Palais de la Découverte are here
Petit Palais – an art museum that was also constructed for the Universal Exposition of 1900
Le restaurant Maison Blanche - rooftop restaurant in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées; offers stunning views of many Paris landmarks
Place de la Concorde – Paris’ largest square, which was designed in 1755 and completed in 1772
Crazy Horse – world-famous Parisian cabaret that features entertainers and artistic burlesque dancers such as famed Dita Von Teese
Vacation rentals in the Champs Elysées district of Paris