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The Avenue des Champs-Élysées (French pronunciation: [av(ə).ny de ʃɑ̃.ze.li.ze] ( listen)) is a street in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Champs-Élysées is arguably the most famous street—and one of the most expensive strips of real estate—in the world. Several French monuments are also on the street, including the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde. The name is French for Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology. According to a much used description, the Champs-Élysées is la plus belle avenue du monde ("the most beautiful avenue in the world").
The avenue runs for 1.91 km (1.18 mi) through the 8th arrondissement in northwestern Paris, from the Place de la Concorde in the east, with the Obelisk of Luxor, to the Place Charles de Gaulle (formerly the Place de l'Étoile) in the west, location of the Arc de Triomphe. The Champs-Élysées forms part of the Axe historique.
One of the principal tourist destinations in Paris, the lower part of the Champs-Élysées is bordered by greenery (Carré Marigny) and by buildings such as the Théâtre Marigny and the Grand Palais (containing the Palais de la Découverte). The Élysée Palace is slightly to the north, but not on the avenue itself. Further to the west, the avenue is lined with cinemas, cafés and restaurants, and luxury specialty shops. The Champs-Élysées ends at the Arc de Triomphe, built to honour the victories of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The Champs-Élysées was originally fields and market gardens, until 1616, when Marie de Medici decided to extend the axis of the Tuileries Garden with an avenue of trees. The avenue was transformed by the landscape architect André Le Nôtre in 1667 according to the wishes of Louis XIV. It was commissioned in 1670 and was then called "Grand Cours" (the Great Course) and wouldn’t take the name of Champs-Élysées until 1709. As late as 1716, Guillaume Delisle's map of Paris shows that a short stretch of roads and fields and market garden plots still separated the grand axe of the Tuileries gardens from the planted "Avenue des Thuilleries," which was punctuated by a circular basin where the Rond-point des Champs-Élysées stands today; already it was planted with some avenues of trees to the Seine river through woods and fields. In 1724, the Tuileries Garden axis and the avenue were connected and extended, leading beyond the Place de l'Étoile; the "Elysian Fields" were open parkland flanking it, soon filled in with bosquets of trees formally planted in straight rank and file. To the east, the unloved and neglected "Vieux Louvre" (as it is called on the maps), still hemmed in by buildings, was not part of the axis. In a map of 1724, the Grande Avenue des Champs-Elisée stretches west from a newly cleared Place du Pont Tournant soon to be renamed for Louis XV and now the Place de la Concorde.
By the late 18th century, the Champs-Élysées had become a fashionable avenue; the bosquet plantings on either side had thickened enough to be given formal rectangular glades (cabinets de verdure). The gardens of houses built along the Faubourg Saint-Honoré backed onto the formal bosquets. The grandest of them was the Élysée Palace. A semicircle of house-fronts now defined the north side of the Rond-Point. The avenue from the Rond-Point to the Étoile was built up during the Empire. The Champs-Élysées itself became city property in 1828, and footpaths, fountains, and gas lighting were added. Over the years, the avenue has undergone numerous transitions, most recently in 1994, when the sidewalks were widened.
The Champs-Élysées, because of its size and proximity to several Parisian landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe, has been the site of several notable military parades, the most infamous being the march of German troops celebrating the Fall of France on 14 June 1940, and the two most famous, the subsequent marches of Free French and American forces after the liberation of the city, respectively, the French 2nd Armored Division on 26 August 1944, and the U.S. 28th Infantry Division on 29 August 1944.
Premier offices and retail
In 1860, the merchants along the Avenue joined together to form the Syndicat d'Initiative et de Défense des Champs-Élysées, changed to an association in 1916 to promote commercially the Avenue. In 1980, the group changed its name to the Comité des Champs-Élysées and to "Comité Champs-Élysées" in 2008. It is the oldest standing committee in Paris. The committee has always dedicated itself to seeking public projects to enhance the Avenue's unique atmosphere, and to lobby the authorities for extended business hours and to organizing special events. Today, the committee, in coordination with other professional organisations, may review with the Parisian administration the addition to the Avenue of new businesses whose floor area would exceed 1000 square meters.
Because of the high rents, few people live on the Champs-Élysées; the upper stories tend to be occupied by offices. Rents are particularly high on the north side of the Avenue, because of better exposure to sunlight. The baroque-influenced regular architecture of the grandiose Champs-Élysées is typical of the Haussmann boulevard architecture of the Second Empire and Third Republic. The Avenue is located right next to the Palais de l'Élysée, the presidential palace, with its rounded gate, and the Grand Palais, erected in the late 19th century. While walking among the gardens and tree-lined promenades one can even encounter an open-air marionette theatre for children, a French tradition popular through the ages.
The Avenue is also one of the most famous streets in the world for upscale shopping. Adidas, Benetton, the Disney Store, Nike, Zara, H&M, Cartier, Bel Air Fashion, Toyota, continental Europe's largest Gap, and Sephora occupy major spaces. Traditionally home to popular brands, as well as luxury brands Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss, Lancel, Guerlain, Lacoste, Hôtel de la Païva, Élysée Palace and Fouquet's, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées confirms its world-class appeal as a prime real estate location: it has lately seen the opening of new big upscale shops such as the biggest Adidas store in the world.
The arrival of global chain stores in recent years has strikingly changed its character, and in a first effort to stem these changes, the City of Paris (which has called this trend "banalisation") initially decided in 2007 to prohibit the Swedish clothing chain H&M from opening a store on the Avenue; however, a large H&M store opened two years later at 88 Champs-Élysées. In 2008, American clothing chain Abercrombie & Fitch was given permission to open a store.
Every year during Advent, Christmastide, and Epiphany, the 'Champs-Élysées' Committee contribute for the Holidays seasons lighting of the Champs-Élysées. This generally occurs from late November until early January. The 2007 lighting of the Champs-Élysées was very successful, with lighting tubes which acted like snow falling from the trees.
Since 1975, the last stage of the Tour de France has finished on the Champs-Élysées, with riders typically making six to eight circuits back and forth on the avenue, with a furious final sprint. The subsequent awards ceremony also takes place directly on the Avenue.
Huge and spontaneous gatherings occasionally take place on the Champs-Élysées in celebration of popular events, such as New Year's Eve, or when France won the 1998 FIFA World Cup. The Champs-Élysées has been the site of numerous large political protest gatherings, like those connected to the 2002 Presidential election.
The avenue was also the site of the 1855 Exposition Universelle.
Paris Métro Line 1 runs under the Champs-Élysées. Station Charles de Gaulle – Étoile is at the street's west end, and there are three stations with entrances on the street itself; from west to east these are: George V by the Hôtel George-V, Franklin D. Roosevelt at the rond-point des Champs-Élysées, and Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau at place Clemenceau.
- Axe historique
- Bastille Day Military Parade
- Bulevardul Unirii, Communist Romania's answer to Champs-Élysées
- Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, an avenue inspired by Champs-Élysées
- Fifth Avenue, in New York City
- List of leading shopping streets and districts by city
- Miracle Mile, in Los Angeles
- The Magnificent Mile in Chicago
- Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, an avenue inspired by Champs-Élysées
- Paulista Avenue, in Sao Paulo, Brazil
- Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills, California
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- "Top Ten Paris Architecture- Squares, Areas and Parks". Paris-architecture.info. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- "The Obelisk of Luxor at place de la Concorde". Davidphenry.com. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- Sciolino, Elaine (21 January 2007). "Megastores March Up Avenue, and Paris Takes to Barricades". New York Times.
- "H&M Champs Elysées : horaires et adresse, ouvert même le dimanche , meltyFashion". Meltyfashion.fr. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- "Abercrombie & Fitch to open Champs Elysées store on May 19th". Fmag.com. 28 February 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
- "Champs-Elysées city visit in Paris and suggested itineraries". Paris.com. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
- "BBC News coverage". BBC. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Avenue des Champs-Élysées (Paris)|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Bastille Day military parade|
- Official website of the Champs-Elysées Avenue (Association comité Champs-Élysées, in charge of the Xmas enlightment and promotion of its members.
- The Champs-Élysées district – current photographs and of the years 1900
- Champs Elysees Paris, official Fan Page on facebook.
- Barry Bergdoll, Columbia University: Paris maps 404
- Satellite image from Google Maps