Known since the Second Empire as the chicest place in Paris to go stretch your legs, the Champs Elysées is a worldwide symbol of Parisian living. Starting from Louis Vuitton, over the last few years the biggest names in luxury living and fashion have claimed their place on the ‘most beautiful avenue in the world.’
The history of the Champs-Élysées dates back to 1670: the gardener André Le Nôtre, who had been commissioned by Colbert to plan out the ‘Jardins de Tuilerie,’ extended the garden’s central viewpoint by creating a walkway where he planted a double row of elm trees on both sides.
The Champs-Élysées takes its name from classical mythology as a place where virtuous souls go after death. It wasn’t until 1828, when the State sold the Champs Élysées to the city of Paris that the avenue could finally undergo the necessary transformations. Hittorff was the architect who designed the Place de la Concorde, followed by Alphand who installed the fountains, pavements and the 1,200 street lamps. The elegant passersby heading to the Bois de Boulogne were from then on able to enjoy themselves in the cafés, restaurants, theatres, circuses and concert halls.
The Most Famous Walkway in the World
More and more, the Champs Élysées became associated with travel: famous saddlers, harnessers and coachbuilders installed themselves on the avenue, hoping to attract the coachmen of the rich society families who drove around under the watchful eye of onlookers. With the arrival of metro Line 1 in 1902, prestigious hotels, bourgeois buildings and luxury stores followed suit. With the advent of the automobile, the coachbuilders were soon replaced by Rolls Royce, Mercedes, Peugeot and Renault. It was alongside the official headquarters of Mercedes in Paris that in 1912 Georges Vuitton acquired the plot of land situated at 70 Avenue de Champs-Élysées, on which he opened the first ever Louis Vuitton Building, in 1914.
Guerlain opened just next door at number 68, in a building designed by Méwès, the architect who designed the Ritz, while a mind-blowing number of hotels made the address the place to be seen. The list of luxury brands that have recently set up shop on the avenue confirms that the Champs-Élysées is the place to showcase French excellence.
The street has a special place in the hearts of the Parisians. On important days of national emotion the crowds instinctively gather there. To commemorate Victor Hugo in 1885, to march for The Liberation in 1944, to pay tribute to General de Gaulle in 1970 or simply to celebrate the football World Cup in 1998, the French never forget that the Champs-Élysées is the ‘street of triumph.’
7, rond-point des Champs-Élysées
Artcurial, is a space dedicated to art.The constant influx of various artworks as well as installations in the “hall of fame” of sculptures and monumental works, as well as the place’s friendly atmosphere, has made it a favourite with the whole of Paris.
68, avenue des Champs-Élysées
You have to see the interior of this boutique designed by Andrée Putman. The cascade of pearl drops which cover the three floors, the perfume cabinet, the fountain and its circuit of more than 50 metres of glass tubing, and a gallery in the basement whose walls, floor and ceiling have been decorated in thousands of small gold stones.
101: The home of Louis Vuitton
The Louis Vuitton flagship store and its new project -«la promenade»- is the maison’s most innovative architectural venture. The absence of traditional floors will take you by surprise. A series of inclined terraces which evoke Asian rice fields, draw you inside with their evocative attraction.
133: The new Publicis drugstore
Come and sample a whole host of pleasures: notably the three rooms bursting with the reflections and inspirations of Alain Ducasse (the restaurant, the bar and the ‘Marcel’ members’ club); as well as the wine and cigar cellars for those who love the finer things in life.
Come and admire the three huge façades, inspired by the sovereignty and style of those at 13 rue de la Paix, as well as the windows designed like miniature theatres.