Undoubtedly the most famous avenue in the world, Champs-Elysees in Paris, France, is blessed with a unique elegance and charm. That is also why it is considered the world's most beautiful avenue. Even with traffic surging along it, there really is something special in the experience of ambling along Champs-Elysees. The streetlamps at dusk provide an exceptional atmosphere to the length that spans from the Place Charles de Gaulle (where you can find the Arc de Triomphe) to Place de la Concorde.
'Champs-Elysees' translates to 'Elysian Fields' in English. Interestingly, it was named after Elusia, which in Greek mythology is the place where conquerors and heroes came to relax. Indeed, when you visit Avenue des Champs-Elysees, you will discover that it was aptly named.
The entire avenue is about 2 kilometers long. It was laid out in the mid1600s by André Le Nôtre, a landscape artist, upon the behest of Marie de Medicis. It was originally intended to be a park. In fact, you can still enjoy the park pavilions (circa 19th century) at the avenue's lower section. Here, you have the perfect setting for romance, with the fountains and beautifully assembled gardens.
What you see now is very different from the Champs-Elysees of the 1980s. Back then, it was filled with tawdry shops, beggars and garish lights. Jacques Chirac, then the mayor, undertook a cleanup of the avenue in the 1990s with the assistance of Ignaz Hittorf. He had trees planted; he also replaced the tawdry shops with chic boutiques and elegant hotels. Now, it has the best cafes, theaters and cinemas, as well as the oldest subway station in the world.
Yes, there is plenty to see and do at Champs-Elysees. We dare say that you can spend the entire day (and night) exploring the shops and still find that you still need more time. Drop by the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais. Petit Palais is the presidential residence since the late 1870s.
Champs-Elysees is also where you can find the splendid Place de la Concorde and where you can sample the mouthwatering cuisine at Taillevent. At one end, you can bask at the wonder of the magnificent Arc de Triomphe, while on the other end, you can see the Obelisk of Luxor, which is an unforgettable 3,300-year-old Egyptian obelisk. Other buildings and places of interest include Marigny Square, Theatre Marigny and the restaurant Fouquet's. Champs-Elysees remains to be one of the most expensive real estate in the world.
As for shopping, be prepared to give your credit card a workout! Here you will find the biggest Louis Vuitton department store, as well as other upscale and world-class shops. Armani, Prada, Cartier are just some of the prestigious names that have a presence at this ultra-chic avenue. The nightlife is also amazing! There are many café terraces where you can sit and go people watching. Nightclubs, such as The Queen, provide you with the venue to dance, dance, dance.
Champs-Elysees is also the home for the major celebrations of this elegant city. July 14 features military personnel marching at a precise rhythm during the parade. Come New Year's Eve, the well-dressed Parisians congregate at the avenue to count down to the last seconds before the turning of the New Year.