The Champs-Élysées (literally, the "Elysian fields") is a broad avenue in the French capital Paris. With its cinemas, cafés, and luxury specialty shops, the Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets in the world. The name refers to the Elysian Fields, the kingdom of the dead in Greek mythology.
The avenue runs 3 km through the 8th arrondissement in northwestern Paris, from the Place de la Concorde with its obelisk to the Place Charles de Gaulle (formerly the Place de l'Étoile), location of the Arc de Triomphe, and forms part of the line of the Axe historique.
One of the principle tourist destinations in Paris, the lower part of the Champs-Élysées is bordered by green space (Marigny Square) and by such buildings as the Théâtre Marigny and the Palais de la Découverte. Farther up, it is lined by cinemas, theaters, cafés and restaurants (most notably Fouquet's), and luxury specialty shops.
The Champs-Élysées were originally nothing but fields, until 1616 when Marie de Medici decided to build a long tree-lined pathway. By 1640, the path extended from the Louvre to the Tuileries. In 1724, the avenue was extended up to the Place de l'Étoile.
By the late 1700s, it had become a fashionable avenue where Queen Marie Antoinette strolled with her friends and took music lessons at the grand Hotel Crillon. The Champs-Élysées became city property in 1828, and footpaths, fountains, and gas lighting were added. Over the years, the avenue has undergone numerous transitions, most recently in 1993, when the sidewalks were widened.
The Élysée Palace is located not far from the avenue.
In 1860, the merchants along the avenue joined together to form the Syndicat d'Initiative et de Défense des Champs-Élysées; in 1980, the group changed its name to the Comité des Champs-Élysées. The committee has always dedicated itself to seek public projects to enhance the avenue's luxe atmosphere, and to lobby the authorities for extended business hours. Even today, the committee has approval over the addition of new business to the avenue.
Because of the high rents, few people actually live on the Champs-Élysées; the upper storeys tend to be occupied by offices. Rents are particularly high on the north side of the avenue, because of better exposure to sunlight.
Every year on Bastille Day, the largest military parade in France passes down the Champs-Élysées, reviewed by the President of the Republic. The Champs-Élysées is also the traditional end of the last stage of the Tour de France.