Avenue des Champs-Élysées

( Champs-Élysées )

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées (UK: , US: ; French: [av(ə)ny de ʃɑ̃z‿elize] ) is an avenue in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France, 1.9 kilometres (1.2 mi) long and 70 metres (230 ft) wide, running between the Place de la Concorde in the east and the Place Charles de Gaulle in the west, where the Arc de Triomphe is located. It is known for its theatres, cafés, and luxury shops, as the finish of the Tour de France cycling race, as well as for its annual Bastille Day military parade. The name is French for the Elysian Fields, the place for dead heroes in Greek mythology. It has been described as the "most beautiful avenue in the whole world".

1900 panoramic view of the Champs-Élysées.

Until the reign of Louis XIV, the land where the Champs-Élysées runs today was largely occupied by fields and kitchen gardens. The Champs-Élysées and its gardens were originally laid out in 1667 by André Le Nôtre as an extension of the Tuileries Garden, the gardens of the Tuileries Palace, which had been built in 1564, and which Le Nôtre had rebuilt in his own formal style for Louis XIV in 1664. Le Nôtre planned a wide promenade between the palace and the modern Rond Point, lined with two rows of elm trees on either side, and flowerbeds in the symmetrical style of the French formal garden.[1] The new boulevard was called the "Grand Cours", or "Grand Promenade". It did not take the name of Champs-Élysées until 1709.[2]

In 1710 the avenue was extended beyond the Rond-Point as far as the modern Place d'Étoile. In 1765 the garden was remade in the Le Nôtre style by Abel François Poisson, the marquis de Marigny, brother of the Madame de Pompadour and Director-General of the King's Buildings. Marigny extended the avenue again in 1774 as far as the modern Porte Maillot.

In 1846, Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, the future Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, lived for a brief period in lodgings just off Lord Street, Southport. It is claimed the street is the inspiration behind the Champs-Élysées.[3] Between 1854 and 1870, Napoléon III orchestrated the reconstruction of the French capital. The medieval centre of the city was demolished and replaced with broad tree-lined boulevards, covered walkways and arcades.

By the late 19th century, the Champs-Élysées had become a fashionable avenue; the trees on either side had grown enough to form rectangular groves (cabinets de verdure). The gardens of the town houses of the nobility built along the Faubourg Saint-Honoré backed onto the formal gardens. The grandest of the private mansions near the Avenue was the Élysée Palace, a private residence of the nobility which during the Third French Republic became the official residence of the Presidents of France.

Following the French Revolution, two equestrian statues, made in 1745 by Nicolas and Guillaume Coustou, were transferred from the former royal palace at Marly and placed at the beginning of the boulevard and park. After the downfall of Napoleon and the restoration of the French monarchy, the trees had to be replanted, because the occupation armies of the Russians, British, and Prussians during the Hundred Days had camped in the park and used the trees for firewood.[4]

The avenue from the Rond-Point to the Étoile was built up during the Empire. The Champs-Élysées itself became city property in 1828, and footpaths, fountains, and, later, gas lighting were added.

 The Champs-Élysées c. 1850

In 1834, under King Louis Philippe I, the architect Mariano Ruiz de Chavez was commissioned to redesign the Place de la Concorde and the gardens of the Champs-Élysées. He kept the formal gardens and flowerbeds essentially intact, but turned the garden into a sort of outdoor amusement park, with a summer garden café, the Alcazar d'eté; two restaurants, the Ledoyen and the restaurant de l'Horloge; a theater, the Lacaze; the Panorama, built in 1839, where large historical paintings were displayed; and the cirque d'eté (1841), a large hall for popular theater, musical, and circus performances. He also placed several ornamental fountains around the park, of which three are still in place.

Major monument of the Boulevard, the Arc de Triomphe, had been commissioned by Napoleon after his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, but it was not finished when he fell from power in 1815. The monument remained unfinished until 1833–1836, when it was completed by King Louis Philippe.

In 1855 Emperor Napoleon III selected the park at the beginning of the avenue as the site of the first great international exposition to be held in Paris, the Exposition Universelle. The park was the location of the Palace of Industry, a giant exhibit hall which covered thirty thousand square meters, where the Grand Palais is today. In 1858, following the Exposition, the Emperor's prefect of the Seine, Georges-Eugène Haussmann, had the gardens transformed from a formal French garden into a picturesque English style garden, based on a small town called Southport, with groves of trees, flowerbeds, and winding paths. The rows of elm trees, which were in poor health, were replaced by rows of chestnut trees.

The park served again as an exposition site during the Universal Exposition of 1900; it became the home of the Grand Palais and Petit Palais. It also became the home of a new panorama theater, designed by Gabriel Davioud, the chief architect of Napoleon III, in 1858. The modern theater Marigny was built by Charles Garnier, architect of the Paris Opera, in 1883.[5]

Throughout its history, the avenue has been the site of military parades; the most famous were the victory parades of German troops in 1871 and again in 1940 celebrating the Fall of France on 14 July 1940, and the three most joyous were the parades celebrating the Allied victory in the First World War in 1919, and the parades of Free French and American forces after the liberation of the city, respectively, the French 2nd Armored Division on 25 August 1944, and the US 28th Infantry Division on 29 August 1944.

A view of Champs-Élysées in the 1860s, looking from the Rond-Point toward the Place de la Concorde. 
A view of Champs-Élysées in the 1860s, looking from the Rond-Point toward the Place de la Concorde.
Statue of Napoleon Bonaparte erected at Champs-Élysées in 1852, soon after the coronation of Napoleon III. 
Statue of Napoleon Bonaparte erected at Champs-Élysées in 1852, soon after the coronation of Napoleon III.
The Champs-Élysées in 1890, viewed from the Place de la Concorde. 
The Champs-Élysées in 1890, viewed from the Place de la Concorde.
The Champs-Élysées in 1939. 
The Champs-Élysées in 1939.
German soldiers marching past the Arc de Triomphe after the surrender of Paris, 14 June 1940. 
German soldiers marching past the Arc de Triomphe after the surrender of Paris, 14 June 1940.
The Free French 2nd Armored Division marches down the Champs-Élysées on 26 August 1944 to celebrate the Liberation of Paris. 
The Free French 2nd Armored Division marches down the Champs-Élysées on 26 August 1944 to celebrate the Liberation of Paris.
American troops of the 28th Infantry Division march down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris, in the Victory Parade on 29 August 1944. 
American troops of the 28th Infantry Division march down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris, in the Victory Parade on 29 August 1944.
President Emmanuel Macron and General François Lecointre, Chief of the Defence Staff, reviewing troops at the 2019 Bastille Day military parade. 
President Emmanuel Macron and General François Lecointre, Chief of the Defence Staff, reviewing troops at the 2019 Bastille Day military parade.
^ Jarrassé, Dominique, Grammaire des jardins Parisiens, p. 51-55 ^ "Champs Elysees". The Magnificence of Champs Elysees: Exploring Paris’s Iconic Avenue. ^ "ER Commemorative Booklet" Archived 2011-06-11 at the Wayback Machine, Sefton Council ^ Jarrassé, Dominique, Grammaire des jardins Parisiens, p. 52. ^ Jarrassé, Dominique, Grammaire des jardins Parisiens, p. 551–555
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