This guest post is by Mary Jo Manzanares, Travel & Culture Channel Editor and travel blogger at Flyaway Cafe.
If the thought of a fine bag, a decadent pair of heels, or the feel of the fabric of a finely crafted suit makes you swoon, then an afternoon on the Champs-Élysées in Paris may be your definition of heaven.
Avenue des Champs-Élysées is not only one of the most recognized street names in Paris, but in the entire world, and is lined with luxury and specialty shops, theaters, cafes and restaurants. Its name translates to "Elysian Fields" a reference to the "place of the blessed" in Greek mythology. With the prices you’ll see at most of these shops and cafes, you’ll need to be blessed, indeed, to make this your prime shopping district.
The street itself is a little over a mile and a quarter long (see photo at left), running from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe in the 9th arrondissement. While its easy to get caught up in its current incarnation as the ultimate shopping location, originally, in the de Medici era, the area was a field and garden market. It was also the location of the famous marches to celebrate the 1944 liberation of France, one march by the French and the other by American troops. Today, the Champs-Élysées is home to the annual Bastille Day parade and is the end of the Tour de France.
It seems like the Champs-Élysées is always full of people, day or night. You’ll find people stopping off to shop at places like: Drugstore Publicis (filled with so many upscale products that it seems a misnomer to refer to it as a "drug" store), Louis Vuitton (its largest store in the world), Virgin Megastore, Adidas (its largest store in the world), and Nike Paris, as exclusive stores co-exist with the growing presence of large chain stores.
Above the street level stores, you’ll find offices, attracting still more people. And, of course, day or night, patrons are flocking to the restaurants, cafes, and theaters.
I enjoyed wandering the street, stopping of at a few shops now and again. Although the strength of the dollar was not on my side, I did manage to justify a purchase at Louis Vuitton, followed by lunch at cafe right in the heart of everything. While lunching on the Champs-Élysées is quite expensive (some might say over-priced), I considered it both a meal and an opportunity to do some people watching as I whiled away a beautiful fall afternoon in Paris.
Photo credit: personal collection