A stroll through the temple of luxury on the Champs Elysées

In Paris, it's hard to miss the Arc de Triomphe, which stands on the Etoile roundabout in Place Charles de Gaulle. Like the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame de Paris, it is one of the capital's most emblematic monuments. Every year, almost a million visitors flock to admire it and climb to the top. The avenue des Champs Elysées offers a breathtaking view of the building. The avenue is famous the world over for its luxury boutiques and addresses. Although a number of popular names have gradually emerged alongside the big-name boutiques, the Champs Elysées still retains its aura and its brand image, not only with foreign tourists but also with many French people, for whom strolling along the avenue is a part of their dream, or even their fantasy, and symbolises a kind of incursion into an inaccessible world.

The Arc de Triomphe at the end of the Champs Elysées.

- © givaga / Shutterstock
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On the Champs Elysées...

It would be amusing to be able to contemplate the spectacle of the Champs Elysées returning to its original state. The cynical magician with this power would see elegant Chanel suits, red Louboutin soles, real rare animal furs, branded tracksuits and fake Louis Vuitton clutches wading through a swamp as surprised as they were embarrassed.

Yes, before it became'the most beautiful avenue in the world', the Champs Elysées was nothing more than an uninhabited swamp. In other words, if you wanted to make a great property deal, you would have had to invest a few coins in Marie de Médicis ' time by buying a plot of land before she had the idea of building a long avenue lined with elms and lime trees.

Vue sur l'avenue des Champs-Elysées depuis l'Arc de Triomphe.

- © givaga / Shutterstock

Once the Cours de la Reine was opened in 1616, Louis XIV entrusted the development of the area to the talent of Le Nôtre. Despite the beautiful avenue created by the genius of the gardener, the area was still not well known and it was not until the Revolution that its reputation improved and it was finally renamedthe Avenue des Champ-Elysées.

But it was really under Napoleon III that the Champs-Elysées acquired its letters of nobility and became a fashionable place of luxury. The avenue quickly became lined withprivate mansions, bourgeois houses, restaurants and chic cafés. The Champs-Elysées was a cult venue for the Paris World Fairs, and received special attention in the second half of the 19th century and throughout the 20th century. In 1938, the avenue was the first in the world to be paved with bitumen.

The Louis Vuitton store on the Champs Elysées.

- © aimy27feb / Shutterstock

Today, the Champs-Elysées avenue is famous the world over for its luxury boutiques. The mix of rich people who come to do their shopping and the much more modest people who come to dream of being rich and famous for the duration of a stroll, means that the pavements of the Champs-Elysées present a great social mix. However, the two pavements are not all in the same boat.

The northern pavement, the one with the even numbers, is the most prestigious, the busiest, the best stocked with shops and shopping arcades and the sunniest, and therefore the most expensive per square metre... In fact, the Champs-Elysées avenue isone of the most expensive in the world and very few people are now able to live there. Be that as it may, the Champs-Elysées remains one of the great symbols of France, spearheaded by the major brands located between Avenue George-V and the Champs-Elysées roundabout.

Focus on the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe on the Etoile traffic circle.

- © Eric Isselee / Shutterstock

As you walk up the Champs Elysées from Place de la Concorde, you can see its elegant silhouette at the end of the avenue, like a beacon towards which all the tourists converge. At 50 metres high and 45 metres wide, it is the largest arch in the world. It was in 1806, after the Battle of Austerlitz, that Napoleon decided to build the Arc de Triomphe, which was subsequently inaugurated in 1836. Built to glorify the armies of the Republic and the Empire, it was designed by the architects Chalgrin, Joust and Blouet.

The Arc de Triomphe seen from below.

- © Bill Perry / Shutterstock

Today, the Arc de Triomphe is a symbol of the victims of all wars. On the ground are a number of inscriptions commemorating various events in French history, including General de Gaulle's 18 June Appeal and the dead of the Indochina and Algerian wars. The facades feature a number of sculptures, including Le départ des Volontaires (The Departure of the Volunteers). The site is also home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which commemorates all the soldiers who died for our country: the eternal flame is lit every evening at 6.30pm.

You can also climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe! After climbing the 284 steps, you can access the panoramic terrace for a magnificent 360° view of Paris and the 12 avenues that run from the Etoile roundabout. There's also a museum retracing the history of the Arc de Triomphe.

Our favourite hotel on the Champs Elysées

Hôtel Barrière Fouquet's Paris 5* Paris
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Hôtel Barrière Fouquet's Paris 5*

This palace is a true Parisian institution, known as much for its incredible suites as for its Michelin-starred restaurant.
9
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£1,200 / night
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Practical information for the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysées are a must-see on any trip to Paris! Allow around an hour to visit the monument, and at least one more to walk down the most beautiful avenue in the world!

🚌 How do I get to the Arc de Triomphe?

The metros 1, 2 and 6 and the RER A serve Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile station, at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe. The monument is also accessible by bus on lines 22, 30, 31, 52, 73 and 92. Hop-on hop-off buses also stop nearby.

⏰ Arc de Triomphe opening times

The Arc de Triomphe is open every day except 1 January, 1 May, the morning of 8 May, the morning of 14 July, the morning of 24 July, the morning of 11 November and 25 December. It may also be closed in the event of official ceremonies or bad weather. It is open from 10am to 11pm in summer and until 10.30pm the rest of the year.

👛 Price of the Arc de Triomphe

  • Full price: €13
  • Under 26s from EU countries: free
  • Under-19s: free
  • Go City All-Inclusive Pass / Go City Explorer Pass / Paris Museum Pass / Paris Passlib': free of charge

To find out about all the free admission conditions and book your ticket online, go directly to the official website of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux.

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Book your ticket for the Arc de Triomphe!

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A few tips for your visit

  • A mobile app on IOS and Android will give you more information during your visit.
  • You have to climb 284 steps to reach the top of the Arc de Triomphe, but lifts are available for those who request them, making the monument accessible to PRMs.
  • Pushchairs, selfie poles, tripods, motorbike helmets, scooters, rollerblades, sharp objects and glass bottles are not allowed inside the monument, which has no changing rooms.
by Editorial Team
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