Parisian sojourn - 3

Champs Elysees


Champs Elysees is the most prestigious and broadest avenue in Paris and is called Avenue des Champs Elysees.

Champs Elysees was originally fields and markets until 1616 when Marie de Medici decided to extend the garden axis of Tui Lie Ries with an avenue of trees.

In 1724, Tui Lie Ries garden and the avenue were connected and extended, leading beyond the place De Letoile, and Champs Elysees had become a promenade with tall trees kissing the horizon. The green shelter made it easier for walkers to stroll around at their own wish. It is believed that queen Marie Antoinette drove with her friends and took music lessons at one of the royal houses here.

Elysees palace is the grandest of the garden houses built along Faubourge Saint Honore. It became a property of the city in 1828 when fountains, footpaths were added. It was illuminated by then. In 1994, it was widened with large granite sidewalks. Famous military parades pass through it.

Because of the exorbitant rent, the avenue is occupied only by offices and corporate houses. The splendid architecture of the Champs Elysees is beyond description.

The presidential palace ‘Palais des Elysees’ and the grand palace is a tourist trap. While waltzing and gaping at the world famous shops under the canopy of trees, we can see an open air Marionette theatre for children, a French tradition popular down the ages.

It is a shopper’s delight which dishes out tres chic items. Benetton, Disney Store, Continental, Europe’s largest Gap and Virgin Mega Store as well as Sephora, Lancome, L’oreal occupy major space.

It is home for luxury brands and one must visit Champs Elysees from November to December to marvel at its illumination for Christmas and New Year. The shimmering lights on either side of the road and glowing lamps on the trees made me wonder whether the leaves had changed colour.

There is unending human and vehicular traffic even at night. During Christmas Eve, the shops are flooded with buyers who are intoxicated by the fragrance of French perfumes.

Curious, I visited each and every shop to catch a glimpse of their wonderful products.


(To be contd)

Jun 21, 2011
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Usha Raja

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