Staying at our hotel, it takes only a few minutes to reach the boulevard that many people consider the most beautiful avenue in the world. The Champs-Élysées borrow their name from the Elysian Fields, the final resting place of virtuous souls in Greek mythology. Occupying former marshlands, the avenue began to take shape from the 17th Century, and up until the French Revolution retained a dubious reputation at the edge of the city.
Definitively named the "Avenue des Champs-Élysées" in 1789, it gradually gained in popularity and under the Second Empire (1852-1870) became a focus of Paris high life. The most recent major improvements to the avenue came in 1994, when the side-alleys paralleling the main thoroughfare were replaced with broad pavements 20 metres wide. Today the avenue is an essential destination for fashion and leisure and, after the Eiffel Tower, the best known symbol of Paris. Great restaurants rub shoulders with luxury brands, high-tech show-rooms and grand hotels. Frequented day and night by Parisians and tourists, the Champs-Élysées offer a never-ending illustration of the pleasures of French living.
After dark, the avenue shines with a thousand lights and becomes a paradise for night-lovers with its bars and fashionable clubs. You can stroll there too, to appreciate this fairyland of lights and maybe pop into a shop or two, since many of them are open for much of the night.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is now so famous it is the focus for great national events like the 14th of July parade, the finish of the Tour de France and the ceremonies to mark 8 May 1945.