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Avenue des Champs-Elysees

Avenue des Champs-Elysees

Avenue des Champs-Elysees

Avenue des Champs-Elysees is a prestigious avenue in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafes, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Avenue des Champs-Elysees is one of the most famous streets and one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the world. The name is French for Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology. The Avenue des Champs-Elysees is known as "The most beautiful avenue in the world", La plus belle avenue du monde in French.

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'Etoile) in the west, location of the Arc de Triomphe. The Champs-Elysees forms part of the Axe historique.

One of the principal tourist destinations in Paris, the lower part of the Champs-Elysees is bordered by greenery (Carre Marigny) and by buildings such as the Theatre Marigny and the Grand Palais (containing the Palais de la Decouverte). The Elysees Palace is slightly to the north, but not on the avenue itself. Further to the west, the avenue is lined with cinemas, cafes and restaurants, and luxury specialty shops. The Champs-Elysees ends at the Arc de Triomphe, built by Napoleon Bonaparte to honour his victories.

Avenue des Champs-Elysees

Avenue des Champs-Elysees

History:The Champs-Elysees 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. 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-Elysees 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'Etoile; 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-Elysees 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-Elysees 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-Honore backed onto the formal bosquets. The grandest of them was the Elysees Palace. A semicircle of house-fronts now defined the north side of the Rond-Point. Queen Marie Antoinette drove with her friends and took music lessons at the grand Hotel de Crillon on the Place Louis XV.The avenue from the Rond-Point to the Etoile was built up during the Empire. The Champs-Elysees 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 Avenue des Champs-Elysees, 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 US 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 Defense des Champs-Elysees, changed to an association in 1916 to promote commercially the Avenue. In 1980, the group changed its name to the Comite des Champs-Elysees and to "Comite Champs-Elysees" 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 metres.

Avenue des Champs-Elysees

Avenue des Champs-Elysees

Because of the high rents, few people live on the Champs-Elysees; 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-Elysees 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'Elysees, 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, 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, Hotel de la Paiva, Elysees Palace and Fouquet's, the Avenue des Champs-Elysees 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") decided in 2007 to prohibit the Swedish clothing chain H&M from opening a store on the Avenue, however an H&M store has been open since 6 October 2009.In 2008, American clothing chain Abercrombie & Fitch was given permission to open a store.

Links:The Official website about the Champs-elysees

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