Champs-Élysées

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8e Arrt
Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Map pointer.svg
Map of Paris
Arrondissement 8th
Quarter Champs-Élysées. Faubourg du Roule.
Begins Place de la Concorde
Ends Place Charles de Gaulle
Length 1,910 m (6,270 ft)
Width 70 m (230 ft)
Creation 1670
Denomination 2 March 1864
Avenue des Champs-Élysées July 24, 2009 N1.jpg
The Champs-Élysées as seen from the Arc de Triomphe

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées (French pronunciation: [av(ə).ny de ʃɑ̃.ze.li.ze] ( )) is a street in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Champs-Élysées is arguably one of the world's most famous streets, and is one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the world.[1] 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").[2] A number of elite institutions (such as the Presidential Elysee Palace) are located in this area, which is the wealthiest in France.[3] [4]

Description[edit]

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,[5] 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.

History[edit]

The Champs-Élysées in 1890, viewed from the Place de la Concorde.
Statue of Napoléon Bonaparte erected at Champs-Élysées in 1852, soon after the coronation of Napoleon III.
The Free French 2nd Armored Division marches down the Champs-Élysées on 26 August 1944 to celebrate the Liberation of Paris.

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-Elysée 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[edit]

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.[6] 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;[6] however, a large H&M store opened two years later at 88 Champs-Élysées.[7] In 2008, American clothing chain Abercrombie & Fitch was given permission to open a store.[8]

North footpath of the Champs-Élysées.

Events[edit]

Avenue des Champs-Élysées street sign, Paris, France - 20100619.jpg

Every year on Bastille Day on 14 July, the largest military parade in Europe passes down the Champs-Élysées, reviewed by the President of the Republic.[9]

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.[10]

The avenue was also the site of the 1855 Exposition Universelle.

Public transport[edit]

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, Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau at place Clemenceau and Concorde (Paris Métro) at the southern end of the avenue, where the Place de la Concorde is located.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°52′11″N 2°18′27″E / 48.86972°N 2.30750°E / 48.86972; 2.30750