A Walk Down the Champs-Élysées in Paris, France

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Our Champs-Elysees Walk Starts at the Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe - Paris - France
Arc de Triomphe - Paris - France. Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, France are the venues for a great 2.25 mile walk (one-way) as we stroll from the Arc de Triomphe l'Étoile in the west to the Louvre Museum in the east. You may want to make some side detours or browse shops and gardens along the way. We start and end at locations with a Metro stop, so you can decide to enjoy a round trip on foot or use transportation to your next Paris destination.

The Arc de Triomphe is a great starting place for your walk. It is at the top of a hill, so our walk will be mostly downhill from here.

Traffic whizzes around the Arc de Triomphe, so stay safe and use the pedestrian tunnel from the Avenue de la Grande Armee or the Wagram exit of the Metro to get to and from the Arc itself.

This is a transportation hub. You can reach the Arc de Triomphe by the Metro (lines 1, 2, and 6 stop Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile), by bus, or as a stop on the hop-on hop-off tour bus route.

If you want a grand view of Paris from the top of the Arc, you can pay the entry fee and climb the strenuous 280 steps to the top.

Otherwise, enjoy the artwork on the Arc, which celebrates Napoleon's victories and French military tradition in general.

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - Arc de Triomphe - Paris

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - Arc de Triomphe - Paris - France
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - Arc de Triomphe - Paris - France. Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

France's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier faces down the Champs-Élysées. An eternal flame burns. This was the first such memorial, established together with Britain's in Westminster Abbey on November 11, 1920 (Armistice Day), following World War I. The flame is rekindled each evening at 6:30 pm.

Jacqueline Kennedy was inspired by this flame to place an eternal flame at the grave of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, in Arlington National Cemetery.

You may want to take a moment to reflect upon the sobering history of war in France and Europe.

To continue our walk down the Champs-Élysées, use the pedestrian tunnel and circle to the Champs-Élysées. We are about to dive into one of the grand shopping boulevards of the world.

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The Cobblestones of the Champs-Élysées

Cobblestones of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées - Paris - France
Cobblestones of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées - Paris - France. Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

As you walk the next half mile on the Champs-Élysées, the street is lined with world-class shops, cafes with curbside seating, and even a McDonald's. The sidewalks are wide but often jammed with tourists from around the world. Don't expect that you will be able to walk unimpeded or at full speed.

Walking this stretch with a small group, we took a full hour to go less than a mile, without stopping for coffee! Be careful of your footing, as there is a gutter in the middle of the sidewalk and tree planters with raised edges.

As a fan of the Tour de France bike race, I was interested in the surface of the Champs-Elysées itself. At the end of July each year, the weeks-long bike race culminates with circuits on the Champs-Elysées. The cobblestones are well-worn but not the ideal biking surface. Savvy racers try to use the smoother lining of gutter as they battle for the ultimate glory of the biking world -- winning the final sprint on the Champs-Elysées.

For walkers, there are pedestrian crossings of the Champs-Elysées to get from one side to the other. But it is a wide street and is best toured on each side with minimal crossings.

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Tree-Lined Paths Along the Champs-Élysées

Walking Along the Champs-Elysées, Paris
Walking Along the Champs-Elysées, Paris. Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

After the first half mile section of shops and bistros, you come to a round-about where the Avenue Franklin Roosevelt and Avenue Montaigne cross the Champs-Élysées. Use the pedestrian crossings and enter into a more park-like, tree-lined area. The next mile along the Champs-Élysées gives you the chance to get away from the traffic noise and even pause on a park bench. You will also see public restrooms along the way.

The trees are horse chestnuts. You can stick to the paved sidewalk closer to the street, or take a side path on light gravel through the park-like setting to the Théâtre Marigny.

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Fountain by the Théâtre Marigny

Fountain by Theatre Marigny - Paris - France
Fountain by Theatre Marigny - Paris - France. Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

Near the one-mile mark of our walk from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre, a detour onto the gravel paths brings us to this lovely fountain outside the Théâtre Marigny.

Just north on the Avenue de Marigny is the Élysée Palace, France's "White House," and stalls of stamp vendors. South, across the Champs-Élysées, is the Grand Palais.

Continuing your walk toward the Louvre, cross Avenue Marigny with the crosswalks and enjoy the tree-lined stroll either on the sidewalk or the gravel paths.

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Obelisk of Luxor in the Place de la Concorde

Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde - Paris - France
Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde - Paris - France. Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées extends from the Place de la Concorde in the east to the Arc de Triomphe in the west, just over one mile and just under two kilometers. Cross carefully with the pedestrian signals to the concrete oval of the Place de la Concorde.

This square was the site of the guillotine that executed King Louis XVI, Queen Marie Antoinette, and many others during the French Revolution.

The Obelisk of Luxor was a gift to France from the Ottoman rulers of Egypt in 1829, moved to this site in 1839. The 3300-year-old obelisk originally was located at the entrance to Luxor Temple in Egypt and commemorates the reign of Ramses II.

From this vantage point, you can see the Eiffel Tower to the west and the stone buildings of the French Naval Ministry and the Hôtel de Crillon to the north.

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Tuileries Gardens Tree-Lined Path

Walk Through Tuileries Gardens - Paris - France
Walk Through Tuileries Gardens - Paris - France. Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

Continuing east from the Place de la Concorde, we can now stroll on paths lined by plane trees in the Tuileries Gardens. This is a quiet respite from the noise of the shopping district further west on the Champs-Élysées. You can pause at any of the numerous benches and rest in the shade and watch everyone pass by. This section with plane trees extends for about a quarter of a mile or half a kilometer.

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Tuileries Gardens Grand Carré - Flower Beds

Tuileries Gardens - Paris - France
Tuileries Gardens - Paris - France. Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

We now reach the open eastern end of the Tuileries Gardens, the Grand Carré. Here you can enjoy the formal flower beds and see how it was originally arranged as the gardens of Catherine de Medici in the mid-1500's.

On my visit, a temporary art installation featured a huge white tube. This was the temporary sculpture "Poem for Earthlings," by Adrián Villar Rojas.

By the far east end of this square, I have walked two miles from the Arc de Triomphe.

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Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel - Paris - France
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel - Paris - France. Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

We reach the east end of the Tuileries Gardens and see another triumphal arch to Napoleon's victories, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. The hedges form a fan facing west.

I've walked over two miles from the Arc de Triomphe and have one more street crossing to get to my destination, the Louvre Museum.

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The Pyramid of the Louvre Museum

Louvre Pyramid - Paris - France
Louvre Pyramid - Paris - France. Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

We've now walked 2.25 miles or almost four kilometers from the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs-Elysees and through the Tuileries Gardens to the Pyramid of the Louvre Museum.

The Louvre Museum is one of the world's greatest art museums, home to the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, the Venus de Milo and two Vermeers. Here we end our fitness walk and must transition to a "museum shuffle" pace if you want to tour inside.

If you enter via the Pyramid entrance, you will go through a security screen before descending to buy tickets and visit the shops (and free restrooms.)

If you want to only take a pause and shop, have coffee at a Starbucks and log into free Wi Fi at the Apple store, enter from the Rue de Rivoli to the Carrousel du Louvre shopping center. You can also access the Metro in this location to take you back to the Arc de Triomphe or other Paris locations if you don't want to retrace your steps.

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