Les Champs-Elysées, a phenomenon unique to Paris
The “most beautiful avenue in the world”, Les Champs-Elysées is a breathtaking segment of a straight space that begins at the Louvre, cuts through the city and merges with the horizon. Created in the Sun King’s time (c.1680), it is one of the most influential urban designs ever imagined. Why did it originate in Paris?
Our walk starts at the Arc de Triomphe, which honors the armies of the Revolution and Napoleon. At its summit is a groundbreaking freize: for the first time in Western art soldiers are shown not as imaginary; like the nude warriors at its base; but as real men of the people. But the drummer-boys, bearded veterans, wounded, camp followers and even oxen are placed so high that one needs binoculars to decipher them. (We bring ours.) Why?
We stroll down the Avenue and conclude at the majestic Place de la Concorde, last and most spectacular of the city’s royal Places. An ancient Egyptian obelisk rises up there. Why?