Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

A Guide to Paris

The easiest way to get to the Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe is by Métro. The Arc de Triomphe is at the north (high) end of the avenue. The northwest corner of the avenue is a good photo spot for the Arc de Triomphe. On that same corner, there’s an entrance to a pedestrian underpass to the arch. It’s rather gloomily lit, but it’s the only safe way to get to the arch. The tunnel leads to this underground lobby, then continues to Grande Armée Avenue. At the lobby, there’s a ticket window and stairs leading to the arch. Tickets are only necessary for the rooftop observation deck (more than steps!). The arch is essentially a monument to multiple wars … I find it a bit depressing. There are lots of plaques memorializing lots of dead soldiers in lots of wars. There’s also a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, installed in (after WWI). Schoolkids are brought here to help them understand that war is glorious. A Flame of Remembrance is rekindled each evening in a special ceremony. For years the monument was covered with soot, but today it is regularly cleaned. A glance at the traffic in the roundabout makes it clear why you must use the underpass. I’ve occasionally seen tourists trying to cross through traffic—yikes! The Charles de Gaulle-Étoile station is right under the arch at the top of the avenue. Many major international brands have their French flagship stores on this avenue. The avenue is crowded with people day and night.

Many are tourists, but not all. There are street vendors as well as fancy stores and boutiques. And there are lots of restaurants … … usually with menus subtitled in English … … as well as sidewalk terraces of varying size. Famous brands abound. A brand’s not a brand unless it appears on the Champs. A leisurely stroll up and down this avenue is always fun, night or day. If you don’t feel like walking, you can just stand and watch the people go by. Some terraces are more elaborate than others, but they are technically “temporary.” Side-by-side restaurants are common; there are enough customers for all. The avenue would be a pile of garbage in no time were it not for these cleaners. The Lido is a famous dinner showclub, the only one on the Champs itself. An increasing number of stores on the avenue are chain clothing stores, alas! But traditional magazine kiosks are still alive and well, too. In touristy areas like this, they sell souvenir postcards and prints, too. Unfortunately, vehicular traffic is just as heavy as pedestrian traffic on the Champs. Up and down, day and night, always either heavy or extremely heavy. At least the sidewalks are very broad, which is uncommon in Paris. Even with heavy foot traffic, there’s still room to walk around. This spot on the avenue used to be jinxed, until this club finally made it a success. More famous brands, although some are primarily French brands. They say that if you walk long enough on the Champs-Élysées … … you’ll meet someone you know. It has happened to me on multiple occasions. H&M has only recently moved onto the Champs-Élysées. These stores are part of one of the Champs’ many shopping galleries. There are restaurants on the other side of the entrance.
This one is the Galerie des Champs, just finishing a renovation. It looks pretty nice inside, now that everything has been remodeled. (The bird noises you hear are not from birds.) (They’re from a guy who has been selling bird whistles at the entrance for at least twenty-five years now.) The renovation isn’t quite finished yet, but it’s looking good. Right down the avenue is another gallery, in a very different style. This is a more traditional, open gallery. And it has a Starbucks right in the middle, the only one actually on the Champs. Galleries like this tend to have more eclectic shops, selling unusual things. I guess the rents are lower, so they can afford to be more independent and unique. Busy streets are not unusual in Paris, but the Champs leads the pack. Nothing short of a downpour will reduce pedestrian traffic on the avenue. Another popular shopping gallery. The FNAC is one of my favorite stores CDs, cameras, computers, gadgets … … but for those who like cosmetics, nearby Sephora is the primary target. It’s huge! Marriott has a hotel right on the Champs. Expensive, but nice, and soundproofed. Hotel guests won’t be kept awake by street performers down on the avenue. Guerlain has had this company store on the avenue for ages. Yet another shopping gallery is the Galerie . Every gallery has a unique style, which is nice. This one seems to be all glass and stainless steel. European chain Quick is the main competitor to McDonald’s for fast food. Monoprix is a popular corner department store. The Virgin Megastore is just above it. As the name implies, this is a huge store CDs, DVDs, music, movies, books, tickets, etc. Compare car hire Nice Airport rates before arriving in France

There are several currency exchange places on the Champs, for the tourists. Some places have two locations on the avenue, like this sandwich café. There are lots of cinemas on the Champs. American films tend to outnumber French films. And there’s a Disney store, for kids of all ages. Zara is an extremely popular clothing chain for women, based in Spain. There are many other stores on the avenue, too many to show here. Another shopping gallery (and I don’t show them all in this video). This one has real snow-white marble in the floors, with tiny lights sparkling through. It also has designer public pay toilets (each toilet by a different designer). It has some unusual sculptures, too. You can buy them at the art gallery you see off to the left. Some people are nervous about crossing the avenue, I don’t know why. It’s busy, for sure, but it’s easy and safe to cross. Even taking pictures from the median is safe. Lots of tourists do it without harm. It’s best to respect the lights, but drivers won’t run you down if they can avoid it. Another view looking up the avenue, from a lower point than before. (The clicking noises you hear are from the excessive traffic noise around the camera.) The PSG soccer team has its own store on the Champs-Élysées. Down on the roundabout, the Artcurial auction house has its own semi-spooky premises. There are quite a few pizza places on the avenue (and throughout Paris). This Alsatian restaurant is open hours a day.

Excellent choucroute (sauerkraut)! It has a handy Alsatian tourist office right next to it. This Arabian perfume place is rather new. It used to be a photo lab, years ago. This chain restaurant serves mussels any way you like, plus other seafood. Newcomers to the avenue include Tommy Hilfiger (more clothing!) … … and Nike. The post office next to Nike closed in , after a % increase in rent. And the pharmacy next to that was forced out recently, too. Now it’s a (chain) tea store. Those are the ex-post office and pharmacy-turned-tea-store to the right. La Durée is famous for its sweets and sandwiches. The decor’s a bit busy for my tastes. Citroën, Peugeot, Renault, Mercedes … they all have showrooms on the avenue. No time to show them all … but here’s Toyota’s showroom. I think this concept car wants to grow up to be a motorcycle. And this one looks like a giant loaf of bread to me. The south side of the avenue has a lot of banks on it. This is Fouquet’s, a very famous and chichi restaurant and bar. It’s where the stars go after the French César cinema awards.

One of their rent-a-cops assaulted me in front of the restaurant once. They have the names of award winners on plaques in the sidewalk. They used to refuse admission to unaccompanied women. I think that finally changed. The Louis Vuitton store is immensely popular, especially with Asian tourists. Their products are fashionable and well made (in France!), but they are pricey. Hugo Boss has had a nice, large store on the Champs for many years. The Nestlé Nespresso store is bigger, even though it sells only coffee machines. Orange is one of the secret identities of France Télécom. They sell iPhones. This odd-looking building is the Publicis Drugstore, open until AM. It’s something like a very expensive Walgreen’s, with a similar product range. These street performers, probably from the ’burbs, attract quite a crowd. I wonder if they realize that they are a perfect distraction for pickpockets. Night is falling, so I’ll stop here.

Don't be the product, buy the product!