Place de la Concorde until Place Charles de Gaulle. Métro: Champs-Élysées Clemenceau (lines 1 or 13), or Charles de Gaulle Etoile (lines 1, 2, 6 or RER A). Entrance to the Arc de Triomphe: free, or €9,50 for adults to climb it, concessions available.
The wide, tree-lined pavements, charming wrought-iron lampposts and grand palatial buildings along the famous Champs-Élysées make it the premium place in Paris for a promenade, where you can not only absorb the scenes of some of the most significant moments in the city’s history but also indulge in some retail therapy in a true shopper’s paradise. Established in the 17th century, the Champs-Élysées (or Elysian Fields, the ancient Greek term for Heaven) is an exclusive and fashionable stretch of road that epitomises many of the best things about this beautiful city, from the effortless elegance of its spacious sidewalks and opulent architecture to the chic displays in the windows of the many designer shops dotted along its length.
Standing in the middle of the road you can see to both ends of the avenue, with the Obelisk at the Place de la Concorde at one end and the imposing bulk of the Arc de Triomphe at the other. The stunning facades of the Théâtre Marigny and the Grand Palais also stand along its length, giving way to shops including Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Guerlain and Lacoste, as well as high street favourites including H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch and the largest Adidas store on the planet. The Champs-Élysées is one of the most expensive strips of property in the world, with an exclusive atmosphere that pervades its entire length and makes it an excellent spot to have a coffee and people-watch when you are all shopped out. The avenue has also been the site of many important events in the capital’s past, including the military marches first by the Nazis to celebrate the fall of France and later by French and American forces to hail the end of the war. It is also the last stage of the Tour de France each year, and the huge military parade to commemorate Bastille Day marches down its centre annually.
At the end of the Champs-Élysées in the Place Charles de Gaulle you can find the Arc de Triomphe, the most important military landmark in France and a monument to those who lost their lives in the French Revolution and Napoleonic War. It harbours the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and its impressive Neoclassical arches rise up at a crossroads in the city that spirals out in all directions. Whilst the Arc de Triomphe is worth visiting at any time of day, after 6.30pm every evening the torch at the base of the arches is lit and the facade is illuminated by electric lights as darkness falls, creating a spectacular shape against the night sky. You can climb to the top of the monument for breathtaking views over the city including the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Montmartre, with the 12 avenues at the foot of the landmark clearly defined from this height as they twist away across the capital.