The Best Things to Do on the Champs-Élysées

The Arc de Triomphe towers over the iconic Champs-Élysées
The Arc de Triomphe towers over the iconic Champs-Élysées | © JOHN KELLERMAN / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Jade Cuttle
7 July 2021

Linking the Place de la Concorde with the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Élysées is known as the world’s “most beautiful avenue”. From cabaret shows at Le Lido to designer shops like Guerlain, uncover the best things to do on this famous Paris street.

The chestnut tree-lined Champs-Élysées is one of the world’s most iconic avenues. Named after the resting place of heroes, it is the annual scene of Bastille Day parades and Tour de France finishes. But as the high-end clutch of malls, boutique stores and theatres demonstrate, France’s legends aren’t limited to military and sport. Get your fix of Parisian culture from our list below.

Ladurée

Bakery, Patisserie, Pastries, $$$
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France, Paris, Avenue des Champs Elysees, Laduree pastry shop
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
When Louis Ernest Ladurée opened a humble bakery on Rue Royale in 1862, he couldn’t have envisaged that it would become a Parisian institution. He can thank the innovative nature of his grandson Pierre Desfontaines who came up with the idea of a double-decker macaron filled with ganache. He then opened a tearoom to cater for the demand. Now, more than 150 years on, Ladurée finds itself in a prestigious Champs-Élysées spot, around 1.5km (1mi) from its original store, churning out over 15,000 macarons every day.

Stamp Market

Market
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If you’ve never considered stamps to be an object of fascination, then the market on the corner of Avenue Gabriel and Avenue Marigny will make you think again. Open every Thursday, weekends and bank holidays, mingle among the pro collectors to find a beguiling array of stamps, postcards and envelopes. Like mini time-capsules, each possessing their own mysteries and backstories, they make for a quirky and inexpensive souvenir.

Miroir d'Eau

Architectural Landmark
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Tucked away in the quiet Jean Perrin square behind the Grand Palais is this pleasant fountain known as the Miroir d’Eau. It can be literally translated as the “mirror of water”. The Art Nouveau sculpture was one of artist François-Raoul Larche’s final works when created in 1910. It is said to represent the Seine, with the nine marble figures symbolising the nine tributaries of France’s northern river.

Admire the towering Arc de Triomphe

Building
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Arc de triomphe in Paris
© kavalenkava volha / Alamy Stock Photo
Inaugurated in 1836 by the French king, Louis-Philippe, after having been commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, and dedicated to the armies of the Revolution and the Empire, the Arc de Triomphe has reigned as one of the most iconic Parisian monuments ever since. Towering 50m (164ft) above the Champs-Élysées, it’s an incredible architectural feat to admire, drawing inspiration from the Arch of Titus in Rome. Many people go to visit the tomb of the Unknown Soldier who was buried at the base of the arch in 1921. The flame of remembrance is rekindled every day at 6.30pm.

Catch a show at Lido’s Paris Merveilles

Bar, Restaurant, French
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Enjoy cabaret at the Lido de Paris
© EDB Image Archive / Alamy Stock Photo
Forget the Moulin Rouge, Le Lido’s Paris Merveilles is a prestigious cabaret on the Champs-Élysées. Dancers known as the Bluebell Girls perform the can-can in mesmerising costumes (think glittering Swarovski crystal bodices and ostrich feather skirts) alongside circus acrobats and sword-swallowers. Each set requires 1,000 hours of design and has been dazzling audiences for 75 years. Booking ahead is essential.

Wander around Place de la Concorde

Architectural Landmark
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PARIS - NOVEMBER 1: Place de la Concorde on November 1, 2016 in Paris, France. It's one of the major public squares in Paris and the largest square
© Andriy Kravchenko / Alamy Stock Photo

Place de la Concorde, the largest square in Paris, is located at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées. Designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel in 1755, the Place de la Concorde gained a ghastly reputation as an execution site during the French Revolution. The French king, Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and Robespierre, along with many others, fell victim to the country’s favoured method of execution in this square: the guillotine. Today, it’s dotted with two monumental fountains along with the Luxor Obelisk and the Big Wheel, a great way to catch the city sights from above.

Puzzle over the mysterious Luxor Obelisk

Architectural Landmark
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The Luxor Egyptian Obelisk at the center of Place de la Concorde, Paris, France
© pichetw / Alamy Stock Photo

The Luxor Obelisk is a 3,000-year-old Egyptian monument at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées, and no one is quite sure how it was made. Reaching 23m (75ft) into the Parisian skyline, this gold-topped granite column is adorned with hieroglyphs exalting the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II. It’s an unusual landmark to find in Paris, as obelisks are usually built to herald the entrance to a temple. However, it was sent to Paris by Muhammad Ali Pasha, Ruler of Ottoman Egypt, as a gesture of good political relations. It first arrived in Paris on 21 December 1833 and has been classified as a historical monument since 1936.

Shop 'til you drop at the city’s best stores

Shop, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
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Paris has always been associated with style, and the Champs-Élysées is one of the best places to enjoy a shopping spree. From tiny designer boutiques selling unique one-offs to the grander luxury stores, there’s a wide range of choice on this famous boulevard. Visit Guerlain, one of the oldest perfume houses in the world, or indulge in a leather accessory from Louis Vuitton. This store, which has been on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées since 1913, is one of the most impressive Louis Vuitton stores in the world. The hotly anticipated sales kick off in Paris in January and July.

Get inspired by world-class art at the Grand Palais

Museum, Market
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The Grand Palais is one of the top institutions in Paris. Art and science combine across the three major sites. The Nave boasts an iconic glass-domed roof, inspired by London’s Crystal Palace. Meanwhile, the National Galleries house artworks by Pablo Picasso, Auguste Renoir and Paul Gauguin. Finally, the Palais de la Découverte is a great place to take kids – it’s a science museum, packed with interactive exhibits. Highlights include a digital 3D simulation of the Space Odyssey missions. The Grand Palais will begin major renovations in 2021, reopening in time for the 2024 Olympics.

Alexis James contributed additional reporting to this article.

These recommendations were updated on July 7, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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