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The Champs-Élysées, Paris, France

July 23rd, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 
 

The Champs-Élysées (pronounced /ʃɑ̃zelize/ audio (help·info), literally the "Elysian fields") is a broad avenue in Paris. Its full name is actually "avenue des Champs-Élysées". With its cinemas, cafés, and luxury specialty shops, the Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets in the world. The name refers to the Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed in Greek mythology. The Champs-Élysées is also called La plus belle avenue du monde, French for "The most beautiful avenue in the world."

The avenue runs for two km through the 8th arrondissement in northwestern Paris, from the Place de la Concorde in the east, with its obelisk, 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 (Marigny Square) and by buildings such as the Théâtre Marigny and the Grand Palais (containing the Palais de la Découverte). The Élysée Palace is a little bit to the north, not on the avenue itself. Farther up to the west, the avenue is lined by cinemas, theaters, cafés and restaurants (most notably Fouquet's), and luxury specialty shops.

The Champs-Élysées were originally fields and market gardens, until 1616, when Marie de Medici decided to extend the garden axis of the Palais des Tuileries with an avenue of trees. As late as 1716, Guillaume de L'Isle'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 stands today; already it was planted with some avenues of trees radiating from it that led to the 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 1700s, 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 St-Honoré backed onto the formal bosquets. The grandest of them was the Élysée Palace. A semi-circle of housefronts now defined the north side of the Rond Point. Queen Marie Antoinette drove with her friends and took music lessons at the grand Hôtel de Crillon on the Place Louis XV. The avenue from the Rond Point to the Etoile 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 1993, when the sidewalks were widened.

Champs-Élysées has impressed people far and wide. Kings of Thailand had the main street of Bangkok constructed to resemble Champs-Élysées.

Every year on Bastille Day, the largest military parade in Europe passes down the Champs-Élysées, reviewed by the President of the Republic (see our multimedia content on the parade).

The Champs-Élysées is also the traditional end of the last stage of the Tour de France.

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.

[Source: Wikipedia]

Send by: Jeronimo

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