Ah, the Champs-Elysées. Who hasn’t dreamed about strolling glamorously along its tree-lined streets towards the towering Arc de Triomphe at the west end? While the famous thoroughfare is known for its belles promenades (beautiful thoroughfare/walks), it also has much to offer in terms of shopping, eating and entertainment.
In the neighborhood surrounding the famous street, you’ll find a brief respite from the intense crowds, a less touristy feel and a return to old Paris.
The iconic avenue and its environs definitely merit a visit, especially on a first visit to the French capital.
Orientation and Transport
The Champs Elysées neighborhood is located on the right bank of the Seine, in the western 8th arrondissement of Paris; the eponymous Avenue runs through the area on a diagonal. The elegant Tuileries Gardens and adjoining Louvre Museum sit to the east, just past the vast Concorde plaza and Obelisque column. The military tribute known as the Arc de Triomphe marks the western edge of the neighborhood. The Seine river lies to the south, with the St. Lazare train station and the bustling Madeleine business district are situated to the north.
Main Streets around the Champs Elysées: Avenue des Champs Elysées, Avenue George V, Avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt
To access the area, the easiest option is to take Metro line 1 to any of the following stops: Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau, Franklin D.
Roosevelt, George V or Charles-de-Gaulle Etoile. Alternatively, for a long stroll up the avenue from its beginning point, take line 12 to Concorde and walk from the bustling, dramatic square into the neighborhood from there.
History of the Avenue and District
- The bosquets of trees lining the Avenue des Champs Elysées, which have become synonymous with famed street, were first planted in 1724. Up until that date, the now-famous avenue was a smattering of fields and market gardens.
- The Champs Elysées has played host to numerous military parades over the years, such as the Free French March by the 2nd Armored Division on August 26, 1944, and the US’s 28th Infantry Division on August 29, 1944, both marking the Liberation of Paris from the Nazi Occupation during World War II. The largest military parade in Europe passes down the street each year on Bastille Day, marking France’s national holiday.
Places of Interest in the Neighborhood
Arc de Triomphe: At the center of the Place de l’Etoile lies this most famous of arches, commissioned by the Emperor Napoleon and inspired by ancient Roman arches. Impressive in scale, a trip to the top offers exceptional views of the wide, elegant Avenue des Champs Elysées.
Read more about the Arc de Triomphe: Complete Guide
Grand Palais/Petit Palais: Rising up off the Champs Elysées are the splendid geometrical glass rooftops of the Grand and Petit Palais, built for the Universal Exposition of 1900. The Petit Palais houses a fine arts museum while the Grand Palais has a science museum and regularly hosts events and exhibitions, including the major international art fair known as the FIAC.
Théâtre des Champs Elysées: This famous theater, located at 15 avenue Montaigne, was built in 1913 in the Art Deco style, and instantly became notorious for its hosting of Igor Stravingky's then-scandalous Rite of Spring.
It's an opulent setting for an evening out in Paris.
Eating and Drinking on and around the "Champs":
Avenue George V and Avenue des Champs Elysées
Tel: +33 ( )01 40 69 60 50
After hours of strolling and window shopping along the grand avenue, sink into one of Fouquet’s leather armchairs and treat yourself to a coffee or cocktail-- it's perhaps the only thing you’ll be able to afford here. Portions are small and prices are steep, but Fouquet’s is frequented by the likes of post-César film award party-goers and President Sarkozy. The famous brasserie has even been named a Historical Monument of France.
La Maison de l’Aubrac
37 rue Marbeuf
Tel:+33 (0)1 43 59 05 14
Enter this relaxed, ranch-like eatery and you’ll almost forget you’re in one of the most chic areasof Paris.
The theme here is beef and you should only come here if you’re willing to make a meal out of it. All the meat is organic and hails from cows raised in the Midi-Pyrénées region. Pair your steak with one of their 800 wine selections from southwest France.
40 Rue de Ponthieu
Tel: +33 ( 0)1 40 75 07 13
Take a step back into the old country with this quaint Italian restaurant serving all the classics. Seated at one of only a handful of long wooden tables, you can enjoy a creamy almond and mushroom-laced linguine or a crispy bruschetta drizzled with olive oil and mozzarella.
58 Rue François 1er
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 25 38 44
If you’re starting to get fed up with French cuisine, hit up this swanky Lebanese restaurant just off the Avenue des Champs Elysées. Here, you’ll find rare Middle Eastern dishes such as minced lamb, onion and cracked wheat croquettes, plus delicious vegetarian classics like hummus and tabbouleh. Unlike most restaurants in Paris, Al Ajami serves food until midnight.
Looking for some of the best macaroons in the city? Stop over at Ladurée and you might just find Utopia. Aside from macaroons-- which come in delicious flavors such as pistachio, lemon and coffee, sold in the trademark light-green boxes, Ladurée offers some of the most scrumptious pastries and sugary delights available in the city.
Where to Shop in the Area?
One of Paris' major shopping districts, the Champs-Elysées neighborhood is host to both global chains and exclusive couture designers. There's little in the mid-range here, however.
- On the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, you'll find worldwide, affordable chain stores like Zara, Gap, Sephora (flagship Paris store) and Virgin Megastore, in addition to upscale names including Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Hugo Boss and Louis Pion
Go here for a complete list of boutiques and locations
- Off of the grand Avenue, many more shopping hotspots await: The ultrachic Avenue Montaigne boasts boutiques for couture designer Chanel, Christian Dior, Emmanuel Ungaro, Versace and others. The equally prestigious Rue Saint-Honoré isn't far, either, offering a gaggle of boutiques.
Nightlife and Going Out:
The "Champs" is a favorite spot for nightlife among those who like a little glitz and old-school club ambiance. Consult our Paris nightlife guide for ideas on where to head after dark in the area.