The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is probably the most famous street on Earth. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées has been dubbed the most beautiful street in the world. Its name means ‘Elysian Fields’, where, according to the Greek mythology, the blessed souls spend their afterlife.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is 1.91 kilometres long and forms part of the Axe historique, stretching between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle (formerly the Place de l’Étoile) in the west, where the Arc de Triomphe is located. The Baroque-influenced regular architecture of the grandiose Champs-Élysées is typical of the Haussmann boulevard architecture of the Second Empire and Third Republic.
Originally fields and market gardens, the Champs-Élysées was conceived of in 1616 by Marie de Medici, who decided to extend the axis of the Tuileries Garden with an avenue of trees. The avenue was gradually lengthened during the 17th and 18th centuries. As early as the 18th century, it became a fashionable place, and soon also a commercial area.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées has been the site of several notable military parades, the most infamous being the march of German troops celebrating the Fall of France on 14 June 1940, and the two most famous, the subsequent marches of Free French and the American forces after the liberation of the city in August 1944.
Since 1975, the last stage of the Tour de France has finished on the Champs-Élysées, with riders typically making six to eight circuits back and forth on the avenue, with a furious final sprint. The subsequent awards ceremony also takes place directly on the Avenue.
The avenue was also the site of the 1855 Exposition Universelle.