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Champs Elysees

INTRODUCTION

Champs Elysees, perhaps the most famous shopping strip in France, is known for high class shopping, elegant dining and the finest entertainment in Paris. The strip is so popular, and world renowned, that rent for a shop on Avenue des Champs-Élysées can reach as high as one million dollars a year,making it one of the most expensive retail locations in the world (after New York’s popular Fifth Avenue strip).

HISTORY

The Champs Elysees began as an open air garden market first held in the early 1600s. Queen Mother Marie de' Medici extended the market and added several trees to line the street.

The growth of the street was enhanced by development of the surrounding land. By the middle of the 18th century, the Champs Elysees had become a popular fashion district, attracting the attention of Paris’ well to do. It is known that even ill fated Queen Marie Antoinette entertained friends here.

In the early 1800s, the Champs Elysees was purchased by the city of Paris, and then modern gas street lights were installed. The area was further developed with recreational paths and artistic fountains.

With the increased attention the Champs Elysees was experiencing, not to mention artistic expression that improved the surrounding lands, the strip began to exert influence over the fashion trends of Paris, and subsequently all of France. Not surprisingly, more and more high profile companies began opening retail locations along the strip. Property values began to soar.

By the mid 19th century, Champs Elysees merchants united to form what is now referred to as the Champs Elysees Committee, with a goal of promoting the already popular shopping district. The group was once led by legendary fashion icon Louis Vuitton.

The Champs Elysees caught the attention of the world when Nazi Germany defeated France. On June 14, 1940, German troops marched the length of the Champs Elysees, celebrating their victory (now known as the Fall of France).

The Champs Elysees would also be the symbolic site of the return of French pride when Allied forces staged an elaborate victory march celebrating the liberation of France in August of 1945.

The modern Champs Elysees enjoys a global reputation for shopping, dining and entertainment. Exceptionally high rental rates leave little room for residency, and most of the buildings are occupied by luxury shops and business offices. The long history, extreme luxury and elaborate architecture, however, draws massive crowds every year.

Modern Champs Elysees enjoys several annual events as well, including the last leg of the Tour de France. Without question, however, the most important celebration, and the largest military parade in all of continental Europe, is the annual Bastille Day march held every July 14. This is the largest event held on the strip.


 
 
 
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