Champs-Elysées : What to See? What to Do? Where to Eat?

The Avenue des Champs-Elysées, or as it is also known “the most beautiful avenue in the world”, represents the prestige, luxury, and elegance of Paris thanks to its history and numerous luxury boutiques.  Today, the Champs-Elysées gets close to 100 million tourists every year.

Champs Elysées
Credits: Dimitri Destugues, Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 3.0

A bit of history

The Champs-Elysées were created in 1670 under the reign of the king, Louis XIV, and the idea came from the Minister and Superintendent of Buildings, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who was working on a project to reconnect the Louvre to the Tuileries Garden by making a great road that would attract the Sun King to Paris’ interior (having left Paris for Versailles, he needed motivation to come back to the Louvre).

The construction work began in 1664 for the gardener Le Nôtre, the architect, Le Vau, and for the painter, Le Brun.

The result was so beautiful that it was extended up to the top of the Butte Chaillot (currently the Place Charles de Gaulle, previously Place de l’Etoile).

In 1806, the Arc de Triomphe saw its foundations taking form.  Napoleon I, who was then emperor, decided to have an arc built to commemorate the triumph and the glory of his French military, having fought for their country and having participated in the victories of France.

Up to 1836, the Champs-Elysées kept its simple aspect, but then came the architect, Hittorff, that decided to change its image.  From 1860, the Champs-Elysées, redesigned by the Baron Haussmann, became stylish and attracted the aristocrats, whose rich businessmen, bankers, and industrialists opened luxury boutiques, hotels, or even private mansions.

Although the Champs-Elysées have been a place particularly frequented by high society, the fact remains that it was just a walking space.

They would have to wait until the 1920’s to see the avenue turn into a street with luxury stores, hotels, cafés, and restaurants.

The idea came from a natural pearl merchant dressed up like a developer, Léonard Rosenthal, who decided to create the Arcades du Lido.

Located from 76 to 78 on the Champs-Elysées, the covered passage built by the architect, Grossard, was listed as a historical monument in 1991 and is home to luxury boutiques, and from 1929, the prestigious Parisian cabaret, Lido.

 

Arc de Triomphe

Place Charles de Gaulle
The Arc de Triomphe – Credits: dontworry, Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 3.0

Since 1970, the Place Charles de Gaulle gets its name from General de Gaulle, an emblematic figure from the French Resistance during World War II.  Before that it was named the Place de l’Etoile because of the many roads that converged there and gave the place a star shape.

At its center is Napoleon I’s Arc de Triomphe. Built by the architect, Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin, it hangs over the Champs-Elysées.  Below it you can admire the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame, homages to the soldiers that disappeared during World War I.

 

The stores on the Champs-Elysées

Continuing down the avenue, you’ll discover a multitude of stores.

The “sun” side on the left (going down from the Place Charles de Gaulle), the international stores like Zara, H&M, the Disney store, Adidas, Naf-Naf, Gap, Guerlain, Sephora, and even the Cartier store.

Finally, on the other side of the avenue, on your right, there are more chic and stylish shops like Louis Vuitton, Kusmi Tea, Nike, Hugo Boss, Nespresso Boutique, Lacoste, and the official PSG boutique.

 

Where to eat on the Champs Elysées ?

For a food break, there is something for all tastes and wallets.

From McDonald’s to Haagen Dazs and Ladurée, you’ll have enough to satisfy your hunger during your shopping trip.

For the most refined palates, L’Atelier Etoile de Joël Robuchon welcomes you to number 133 along the avenue and Fouquet’s at number 99.

Otherwise you’ll have to go to the streets outside of the Champs.

At 11, rue de la Trémoille, you can try a super Bo-Bun at Ginger, or at Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire at 6, rue Balzac for gourmet dishes.

 

Shops Champs Elysées
Credits: Benh LIEU SONG, Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 3.0

 

Main stores and places on the Champs-Elysées

  • Haagen Dazs: You can try a nice dish of ice cream of different flavors: cookies, banana split, brownies, red fruit, etc. Taste your treat on the terrace or buy your dish at the boutique.
  • Ladurée: This is one of the first tea salons to be opened in Paris. Ladurée is a bakery, built in 1862, where you can taste the famous macarons for which they are famous, but also the different baked goods and their tea.  The brand also offers similar products, but be careful, the prices are high enough.
  • Nike: In this 3-floor boutique, you’ll find all the current sport collections. For women, men, and children, there is something for everyone. However, we recommend that you avoid going there on Saturdays, because that is when it brings in a lot of people.
  • Adidas: On the same principle of the Nike boutique, Adidas welcomes you into a large store offering sport clothing for women, men, and kids.
  • Le Fouquet’s: For an exceptional breakfast, lunch, or dinner, go to number 99 on the avenue. Of course, the prices are a bit high, because you are having gourmet cuisine, but the refined dishes are designed by the chef, Jean-Yves Leuranguer.
  • Cartier: Founded in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier, the company is located at number 154 on the avenue. With luxury jewelry, you can find the most beautiful jewelry in the capital.
  • Lido: This Parisian cabaret, located at 116 bis, offers highly colorful shows, orchestrated by fantastic dancers with dream bodies covered in featherss, rhinestones, and sequins.  You can enjoy the show while having dinner or with a simple glass of champagne. Book a show at Le Lido

 

Avenue Montaigne

Avenue Montaigne
Avenue Montaigne – Credits: Ralf.treinen, Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 3.0

Further down the avenue, you’ll find the Rond-Point (roundabout) des Champs Elysées.

At the heart of the neighborhood, luxury shops will dazzle you at the corner of avenue Montaigne, like the stores Gucci, Elie Saab, Christian Dior Couture, Chanel, Jimmy Choo, and plenty others.

Also, Abercrombie & Fitch at 23, avenue des Champs-Elysées will open its doors to a high-end clothing store where you can appreciate the muscular torsos of models/salesmen and even pose for photos with them!

At 7 Rond Point des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, l’Hôtel Marcel Dassault Artcurial, listed as a historical monument with its original name Hôtel d’Eysperant, was built in the 1840’s.  Since 2002, it has been home to the French auction house, Artcurial.  You can also enjoy the art library, the gallery, and some coffee.

The Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées marks the limit between the Champs-Elysées of the 17th century that was mostly a garden, and the rest of the avenue and its many boutiques, and at the time, private mansions.

Today, it is pleasant to walk in the shade of the trees far from the ruckus of the Champs Elysées.

This neighborhood is more about the culture than the shopping.

At the entrance, there is the Théâtre du Rond-Point, at 2 bis Avenue Franklin-D-Roosevelt, an old theater built by Gabriel Davioud in the 1840’s.

You can attend plays, original shows, and comedy shows.  There is a bit of everything, but mostly things that you won’t see anywhere else.  We’ll let you explore the place.

To the left, at 41, Avenue Gabriel, the Restaurant Laurent, a Michelin-starred restaurant that offers you refined cuisine imagined by the chef, Alain Pégouret.

You can taste your meal in one of five rooms that are available.  The dining room welcomes you with an elegant and intimate décor, with its columns and bay windows opening up on the wooded garden.

Next to the restaurant, the Théâtre Marigny, designed by the architect, Edouard Niermans in 1894, is a theater hall arranged in a rotunda.  However, note that it is currently closed for construction since 2013.

 

Lower part of the Champs-Elsyées

Grand Palais
Grand Palais

Avenue Winston Churchill, le Grand Palais, museum of modern art, home to exhibitions, shows, and events throughout the year.  Covering an area of 77,000m2, it was built in 1897 on the occasion of the 1900 World’s Fair with its brother the Petit Palais.  The whole Palais was listed as a historic monument since 2000.

It is distinguishable by its atypical architecture for the time of its construction, but it became in style in the 20th century.  Its large canopy made of iron and steel is reminiscent of the style of the Eiffel Tower, and the Parisian metro entrances of the time.

Located in the west wing of the Grand Palais, the Palais de la Découverte is a science museum, opened in 1937 by Jean Perrin (physicist and French politician).

The museum displays mostly exhibits and collection on the progress of medicine.  Finally, in front of the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais from the architect Charles Girault, was also created for the 1900 World’s Fair, and opened like the Palais des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris in 1902.

Behind the Petit Palais, the Pavillon Ledoyen is a restaurant located at 1, Avenue Dutuit.  It offers superior quality products like foie gras, macarons, coffee, tea, or chocolates.  Situated in an exceptional building since 1848, you’ll find yourself in a really romantic and typically Parisian ambiance.

Located on Avenue Gabriel, the Espace Pierre Cardin is a space dedicated to special events.  Made up of different multipurpose rooms, theaters, exhibition rooms, etc.  It welcomes many artists all throughout the year (for music, dance, theater..) that you can come admire.

 

Our recommended hotels in this neighborhood

5 stars:
Four Seasons Hôtel George V Paris : luxury hotel that will offer you high-quality services, perfect rooms and suites very well equipped.
Hôtel le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris : near the Monceau Park, this luxurious hotel is offering luxury services. A lounge, a library and a cinema are all available.
Hôtel Plaza Athenee Paris : luxury hotel, 5 restaurants overseen by Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse, a Dior institute spa, you will be enchanted by the charm and the luxury of this palace.

4 stars:
Résidence Alma Marceau : will offers you modern and well equipped apartments, which will allow you to remain independent during your stay in the chic 16th arrondissement.
Hôtel Keppler : one of the new parisian luxurious hotel, Keppler boutique hotel Paris offers five exquisite suites with balcony and Eiffel Tower exclusive views.
Hôtel Elysées Mermoz : design and warm atmosphere, discover the temporary exhibitions of there own art gallery or simply relax in the privatized cinema.

3 stars:
Hôtel Augustin Astotel : idealy located near the Gare Saint-Lazare, the hotel offers modern and well-equipped rooms.
Hôtel Ekta Champs Elysées : the rooms are colorful, design and particularly original, near the Champs Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe, the Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower.
Hôtel Elysées 8 : mixes traditional construction and modern equipment for the comfort of all, in the heart of the chic Madeleine Quarter, near the Champs-Elysées.

1 & 2 stars:
Hôtel Paris Saint Honoré : ideally located, 650m away from the Champs-Elysées.

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