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Avenue des Champs-Elysees Paris France

History of Avenue des Champs-Elysees

The Champs-Elysees was originally fields and market gardens, until 1616, when Marie de Medici decided to extend the garden axis of the Palais des Tuileries with an avenue of trees.

Guillaume de L'Isle's map of Paris shows that a short stretch of roads and fields and market garden plots still separated the grand axe of the Tuileries gardens from the planted "Avenue des Thuilleries" as late as 1716.


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Avenue des Champs-Elysees History Paris France

In 1724, the Tuileries garden axis and the avenue were connected and extended, leading beyond the Place de l'Etoile, where open parkland flanked it, but it was soon filled in with trees formally planted in straight rank.

To the east the unloved and neglected "Vieux Louvre" was still hemmed in by buildings and was not part of the axis.

In a map of 1724, the Grande Avenue des Champs-Elysees stretches West from a newly-cleared Place du Pont Tournant, now known as the Place de la Concorde.

By the late 1700s, the Champs-Elysees had become a fashionable avenue and the trees on either side had thickened enough to be given formal rectangular glades, known as cabinets de verdure. The gardens of houses built along the Faubourg St-Honore backed onto the formal bosquets, with the grandest of them all being the Élysees Palace.

A semi-circle of house fronts now defined the north side of the Rond Point.

Queen Marie Antoinette drove with her friends and took music lessons at the Grand Hotel de Crillon on the Place Louis XV.  The avenue from the Rond Point to the Etoile was built up during the Empire. 

In 1828, the Avenue des Champs-Elysees became city property, and footpaths, fountains, and gas lighting were added.

Over the years, the avenue has undergone numerous transitions, most recently in 1994, when the sidewalks were widened.

Because of its size and proximity to several Paris landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Elysees has been made the site of several famous military parades, the most famous of which were the march of German troops celebrating the Fall of France on 14 June 1940 and the subsequent entrance of free French and American forces into the city after its liberation on 25 August 1944.

On Bastille Day, every year the largest military parade in Europe passes down the Champs-Élysees, reviewed by the President of the Republic.

Each year from the end of November to end of December, the 'Champs-Elysees' Committee contribute to the lighting of the Champs-Elysees for the holiday season.

The Champs-Elysees is also the traditional end of the last stage of the Tour de France.

Huge and spontaneous gatherings occasionally take place on the Champs-Elysees in celebration of popular events, such as New Year's Eve, or when France won the 1998 FIFA World Cup at the Stade de France.

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