Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris
Discover History, Culture, Retail & Recreation on the World’s Most Beautiful Avenue
Running from Place Charles de Gaulle to Place de la Concorde in the city’s elegant 8th arrondissement, Avenue des Champs-Elysées is without a doubt the most famous, beautiful and beloved boulevard in all of Paris; Europe; or even the world! Here’s our guide to this paramount point of the capital’s history, culture and amusement, located just a leisurely one minute stroll from Hotel de Vigny.
From Vegetable Patch to The World’s Most Famous Avenue
Until the reign of Louis XIV, the land where the Champs-Elysées lies today was largely occupied by fields and kitchen gardens. Perfect for cultivating potatoes in close proximity to Paris, but far from ideal for a space befitting a King! Thus, Louis the Great entrusted royal landscape architect André Le Nôtre to extend the jardins of Tuileries Palace. The result was a glorious green space that would come to be known as Avenue des Champs-Elysées, although the name - referring to the Elysian Fields of Greek Mythology - wouldn’t arise until 1709.
It was around this time that the avenue would be extended as far as Place Charles de Gaulle (then Place d'Étoile) to the west, with further facelifts occurring throughout the 18th century. But it was the 19th century that oversaw the most significant changes to Champs-Elysées, courtesy of one Baron Haussmann. In his Renovation of Paris, the city was given a complete makeover, and by 1870 one-fifth of the streets in central Paris were his creation. Avenue des Champs-Elysées (as we know) wasn’t one of them, but it may as well have been, with the iconic rows of horse chestnut trees and their neighbouring Haussmannian buildings for which the boulevard is so famous today, all the making of the master planner.
Now, strolling along the length of Avenue des Champs-Elysées, from Arc de Triomphe at Place Charles de Gaulle to the Luxor Obelisk at Place de la Concorde, will acquaint you with some of Paris’ most beautiful landmarks! But there’s much more exploration than merely meets the eye at Champs-Elysées.
Days & Nights of Discovery at Avenue des Champs-Elysées
Not to be missed on any Champs-Elysées itinerary is a visit to the aforementioned Arc de Triomphe. Commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 and (finally!) inaugurated thirty years later by King Louis-Philippe, hours can be spent marvelling at the structures intricate, statue adorned façade, while venturing up the monument’s 284 steps will unveil panoramas over a patchwork of Parisian roads and rooftops.
For your cultural fix, pay a visit to the neighbouring Petit and Grand Palais’ - throughout the year home to an ever-changing lineup of art exhibitions, to supplement priceless permanent collections containing masterworks by Monet, Rembrandt, Cézanne and Gauguin, to name but a few of the artists on display. While those wishing to indulge in some retail therapy can shop until their heart’s content in luxury Champs-Elysées boutiques by Cartier, Guerlain and Louis Vuitton, with nearby Avenue Montaigne home to Dior, Versace and Saint Laurent Paris.
Then, as night falls, the City of Light rises, as revellers from around the world frequent the avenue’s endless offerings of evening entertainment venues. Among them are high-end haunts like Apicius - Paris’ home of midweek merriment - where couture cocktails can be enjoyed amid sumptuous surroundings. Whilst those in search of some more zestful nightlife can pay a visit to the capital’s world-famous cabaret clubs at Le Lido de Paris and Le Crazy Horse de Paris - all of which are reachable in just minutes from Hotel de Vigny!
However, any evening in Paris is undoubtedly defined by its cuisine; you are in the culinary capital of the world, after all! But to sample the splendour of the city’s gastronomy, you need not travel far. Simply swing by Hotel de Vigny to our gourmet restaurant, Penati al Baretto, and prepare to delight in the Michelin starred magic of Alberico Penati, as he departs you on a toothsome tour of Italia! Alternatively, a visit to our sister boutique at Hotel Balzac, will introduce you to chef extraordinaire Pierre Gagnaire, in his eponymous, three Michelin starred restaurant - otherwise known as Paris’ home of French-fusion cuisine.