The Champs-Elysées is undoubtedly the most famous street in Paris and the quarter which lies around it is brimming with wealth and power. It is home to the president of France, great haute couture fashion houses, embassies and consulates, and the five-star hotels and fine restaurants frequented by the French and foreign élite. The Champs-Elysées itself runs from the place de la Concorde to the place Charles de Gaulle, which is known as L’Etoile (the star) because of the 12 busy avenues that radiate out from it. It is the most stately stretch of the so-called Triumphal Way, built by Napoleon, where Parisians celebrate national events with parades or mourn at the funeral cortèges of the great and good.

La Marseillaise

The stirring French national anthem was written in 1792 by a French army engineer named Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle. He lived for a time in this district, at 15 rue du Faubourg-St-Honoré. The rousing song got its name from the troops from Marseille who were prominent in the storming of the Tuileries during the Revolution .

  1. Arc de Triomphe

    Arc de Triomphe
  2. Avenue des Champs-Elysées

    One of the most famous avenues in the world came into being when the royal gardener André Le Nôtre planted an arbour of trees beyond the border of the Jardin des Tuileries in 1667. First called the Grand Cours (Great Way), it was later renamed the Champs-Elysées (Elysian Fields). In the mid-19th century the avenue acquired pedestrian paths, fountains, gas lights and cafés, and became the fashionable place for socializing and entertainment. Since the funeral of Napoleon in 1840, this wide thoroughfare has also been the route for state processions, victory parades and other city events. The Rond Point des Champs-Elysées is the prettiest part, with chestnut trees and flower beds. In recent years, formerly touristy parts have been revamped and flagship stores of international brands have been welcomed back. A walk along the avenue is still an essential Paris experience.

    Avenue des Champs-Elysées
  3. Grand Palais

    This immense belle époque exhibition hall was built for the Universal Exhibition in 1900. Its splendid glass roof is a landmark of the Champs-Elysées. The façade, the work of three architects, is a mix of Art Nouveau ironwork, Classical stone columns and a mosaic frieze, with bronze horses and chariots at the four corners of the roof. The Galleries du Grand Palais host temporary art exhibitions.

    • 3 ave du Général-Eisenhower, 75008

    • 01 44 13 17 17

    • Open 10am–8pm Thu–Mon, 10am–10pm Wed (daily during exhibitions)

    • Closed 1 May, 25 Dec

    • Admission charge

  4. Petit Palais

    The “little palace” echoes its neighbour in style. Set around a semi-circular courtyard, with Ionic columns and a dome, the building now houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris. This includes medieval and Renaissance art, 18th-century furniture and a collection of 19th-century paintings.

    • Ave Winston-Churchill, 75008

    • 01 53 43 40 00

    • Open 10am–6pm Tue–Sun

    • Closed public hols

  5. Pont Alexandre III

    Built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition to carry visitors over the Seine to the Grand and Petit Palais, this bridge is a superb example of the steel architecture and ornate Art Nouveau style popular at the time. Named after Alexander III of Russia, who laid the foundation stone, its decoration displays both Russian and French heraldry. The bridge creates a splendid thoroughfare from the Champs-Elysées to the Invalides .

    Pont Alexandre III
  6. Palais de la Découverte

    Set in a wing of the Grand Palais, this museum showcasing scientific discovery was created by a physicist for the World’s Fair of 1937. The exhibits focus on invention and innovation in the sciences, from biology to chemistry, to astronomy and physics, with interactive exhibits and demonstrations (the magnetism show is especially spectacular). There is also a planetarium, while the Planète Terre (Planet Earth) rooms examine global warming.

    • Ave Franklin-D-Roosevelt, 75008

    • Open 9:30am–6pm Tue–Sat, 10am–7pm Sun

    • Closed most public holidays

    • Admission charge

  7. Rue du Faubourg-St-Honoré

    Running roughly parallel to the Champs-Elysées, this is Paris’s equivalent of Fifth Avenue, Bond Street or Rodeo Drive. From Christian La Croix and Versace to Gucci and Hermès, the shopfronts read like a Who’s Who of fashion. Even if the prices may be out of reach, window-shopping is fun. There are also elegant antiques and art galleries. Look out for swallows that nest on many of the 19th-century façades.

  8. Avenue Montaigne

    In the 19th century the Avenue Montaigne was a nightlife hotspot. Parisians danced the night away at the Mabille Dance Hall until it closed in 1870 and Adolphe Sax made music with his newly invented saxophone in the Winter Garden. Today this chic avenue is a rival to the rue Faubourg-St-Honoré as the home to more haute couture houses such as Christian Dior and Valentino. There are also luxury hotels, top restaurants, popular cafés, and the Comédie des Champs-Elysées and Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.

  9. Palais de l’Elysée

    Built in 1718, after the Revolution this elegant palace was turned into a dance hall, then, in the 19th century, became the residence of Napoleon’s sister Caroline Murat, followed by his wife Empress Josephine. His nephew, Napoleon III, also lived here while plotting his 1851 coup. Since 1873 it has been home to the president of France. For this reason, it is worth noting that the palace guards don’t like people getting too close to the building .

    • 55 rue du Faubourg-St-Honoré, 75008

    • Closed to the public

  10. Musée Jacquemart-André

    This fine display of art and furniture, once belonging to avid art collectors Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart, is housed in a beautiful late 19th-century mansion. It is best known for its Italian Renaissance art, including frescoes by Tiepolo and Paolo Uccello’s St George and the Dragon (c.1435). The reception rooms feature the art of the 18th-century “Ecole française”, with paintings by François Boucher and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Flemish masters are in the library.

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