In one word I can tell you what's wrong with the Avenue des Champs-Élysées: cars.
This street is marketed as "the most beautiful avenue in the world", and it really is beautiful except for the fact that there is an ugly ten-lane highway running right down the middle. There are four lanes of moving motor traffic in each direction (moving or creeping, as the case may be, or accelerating wildly when the traffic lights change), plus two lanes of parked cars on either side.
If I have measured correctly, the entire avenue is about 67 meters wide. Of that width, roughly 25 meters in the middle is devoted to motor vehicles, with a 21-meter sidewalk for pedestrians on each side. So far there are no bicycle lanes.
While the current situation is unsatisfactory, to say the least, I keep reminding myself that for over half a century, from the late 1930s to the early 1990s, it was worse -- much worse, since nearly the entire width of the avenue was given over to cars.
By the 1970s, even car-loving conservative politicians couldn't help noticing that the character of the Champs-Élysées was changing. The grand hotels, luxury boutiques and elegant restaurants began to leave, being replaced by chain stores and fast-food joints.
So from 1991 to 1994 a sweeping rearrangement of the Champs-Élysées was carried out under the direction of the French architect and urbanist Bernard Huet (1932-2001).
Much of the construction work was coordinated by the engineering firm OGI (Omnium Général d'Ingénierie), which summarized the project as follows:
"The rearrangement of the Champs Élysées consisted of restoring the character of a promenade to an avenue which had become an immense open-air parking lot. To do this, the side roads were eliminated, a second row of trees was planted and the entire surface of the pedestrian area was re-paved in granite." (My translation.)
Planting a second row of trees may not sound like a huge project, especially since it was just a matter of replacing a row of trees that had been cut down in the 1930s to make room for cars, but in fact this turned out to be a long and very expensive project because in the meantime the dirt under the sidewalk had been replaced by a labyrinth of cables, water pipes, gas pipes, sewer pipes and tunnels, all of which had to be found and relocated.
Second photo: As you stroll along these wide granite-paved sidewalks today, it is hard to believe that for over half a century most of this surface was used for car parking. But it was.
There are about a dozen Vélib' stations on side streets near the Champs-Élysées, but none on the avenue itself. The ones I have used most recently are stations 8028 at 1 Rue Arsene Houssaye and 8003 at 63 Rue Galilée.
Why I shun the crass, expensive, naff Champs Elysees by Hugh Schofield on the BBC News website.
Tradition, elegance, sophistication are words that merge in this famous avenue.
It keeps its classical image, but here and there a few dots of modernity are useful to remember that time doesn't stop.
It's funny to compare the actual look with the memories of several decades ago!
The Champs-Elysées has many upmarket shops, includingshops for motoring and autosports enthusiasts. Peugot, Citröen, and Renault all have showrooms with items to buy, and displays different from your local dealer. We visited the Renault showroom on our visit in January 2014 and I was treated to a brilliant display; an Etoile Filante speed record holder from 1956. When I sent these photographs to my brother, he said that it reminded him of the cars he used to draw on his jotter in French class.
The shopfronts of the high end stores on the Champs Elysees are without a doubt equal to or better than any you will find anywhere in the world. If like me, you can't really afford to shop on this famous street (unless you want to pick up a few necessities at Monoprix) then you can enjoy just checking out all of the elaborate shop fittings and decor and take a few pics to bring home.
This is window dressing at its very best and certainly worth a trip to see and enjoy.
My favourite has got to be the see through man outside Purcell at No. 26.
It was only in 2008 that for the first time a Christmas market was held on the Champs-Elysées from the Rond-Point to the Concorde.
It was for Paris something new and attracted at lot of Parisiens as well as tourists who happened to be there like my wife and I.
Very nice were the more than 400 trees illuminated with bleu lights. Behind the Concorde at the Tuileries stands the illuminated Grande Roue. This is a great vision.
Ninety white country cottages lit by blue LED were installed on the Champs-Elysées offering traditional or more modern products coming from various countries from the EU.
I must say that the shops were rather banal by themselves. Really worthwhile on the Champs-Elysées are the Illuminations.
I still think that if you want to have a more romantic Christmas atmosphere you are better at the Christmas markets in the Alsace.
This year the VILLAGE DE NOEL DES CHAMPS-ELYSEES is open from 15/11/2013 till 5/01/2014 every day from 11 to 23 h (24 h on WE).
Illuminations from 17 h - 02 h. Special illuminations on 24/12 and 31/12.
Main Boulvard of Paris. It starts at the Louvre and ends at the Arc De Triomphe. Although Dominated by tourist shops, restaurants and chain stores this is a great place for a walk and some window shopping. However for a more authentic Paris experience heads towards Rue Moutefard in the Latin Quarter or Montemarte.
Gaspare Spontini (1774-1851) was an Italian opera composer who spent many years in Paris and later in Berlin. His best-known opera, La Vestale, was first performed in Paris in 1807.
In this opera Licinius, a victorious Roman general, returns to Rome in triumph only to discover that his fiancée, Julia, had given hope of ever seeing him again and was now a Vestal Virgin, a priestess of the goddess Vesta who had taken a vow of chastity for thirty years.
When Licinius visits Julia at the temple one night, they are so busy singing love duets that she lets the sacred fire go out. For this she is sentenced to death, but the rule is that she has to take off her white shawl and lay it on the altar. If it spontaneously catches fire, that is a sign that the goddess has pardoned her, otherwise she has to die. Of course it does catch fire – one of her colleagues puts a torch to it while no one is looking – so Julia and Licinius can get married and live happily ever after.
In October 2013 I saw a marvelous production of La Vestale at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, with the American tenor Andrew Richards as Licinius and the Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho as Julia. The singing, acting and staging were all superb, and the happy ending really did look happy, with the chorus chasing the loving couple around the stage to the strains of Spontini’s ballet music.
The white smoke on the opera posters (first photo) is the smoke from the burning shawl which proves that the goddess has pardoned Julia.
Further tips/reviews on the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées:
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
Don Giovanni at the Champs-Élysées, 2006 and 2013
Concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, 2012
Bourdelle and the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
More on the American tenor Andrew Richards:
Brussels intro page
Strasbourg intro page
Carmen by Georges Bizet (1838-1875) in the Arena of Verona, Italy
Andrew Richards, tenor
Next Paris review from October 2013: Museum of Jewish Art and History
In the heart of the Christmas village on the Champs-Elysees, I don't know if they held every year, during our visit there were ice sculpture exhibition just where the Christmas market stands. Be aware that inside is minus -10 it's damn cold but it's worth to see
This has got to be the most fantastic street in the world. There is so much to see here at any time of the day or night. The last time I was on the Champs Elysses, there was an exhibition tracing the history of Vogue magazine and all of the front covers of Vogue were displayed up and down the thoroughfare. I could have spent many hours studying them all. I had the gypsy gold ring scam tried out on me too but for once in my life I was quick thinking enough to recognise that I was being targeted immediately. I had seen so much written about it on VT, I would have been extremely slow and incredibly stupid not to have picked up on it. I was so proud of myself.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is easily one of the most famous avenues in the world.
Surprisingly, it is not nearly as long as one might think. It is actually only 1.9 km long, running from the Place de la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle (Etoile.) The avenue ends at the Arc de Triumphe.
Take your time and just stroll down the avenue. Make sure you have money in your pockets. There is lots of expensive shopping to be done, great cafes and restaurants.
Is the Avenue des Champs-Elysees the most famoust street in the World or just in Paris.... ? Which is it?
This impressive Avenue, built in the 17th century, stretches from the Place la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle, the site of the Arc de Triomphe. The Hop on/off Bus is taking us along the Avenue and we are looking at the majestic buildings lining the avenue, the luxury gardens with fountains, the roadside neatly trimmed trees and grand buildings including the Grand and Petit Palais.
Tourist's like me, are going to the theater, shopping, going to a restaurant or just window shopping infront of Chanel, Christian Dior, Guy Laroche, and others. It's a busy street, full of both cars and pedestrians.
This is where major celebrations are held, like New Years Eve, the 14th of July military parade as well as the arrival of the Tour de France cycling race in July.
It was at stop 7, on the avenue we alighted from the Hop on/off tour bus, quite near to the Arc de Triomphe.
The Champs-Elyesse is a wide avenue lined with shops, restaurants and hotels. The formal gardens which line the avenue were laid out by Jacques Hittorf in 1838. These gardens were very popular in the 19th century with fashionable people like Marcel Proust who would sit amongst the flowerbeds and fountains