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The Axe Historique (Historical Axis), alternatively known as La Voie Triomphale (The Triumphal Way), is a line of monuments, buildings and thoroughfares that sits on the Right Bank of Paris, to the centre of the city. It extends from La Défense to the Louvre via Champs-Élysées, spanning approximately 7-8 kilometres in distance.
Starting from the Louvre, the axis first encounters the pyramid of IM Pei and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. The Jardin des Tuileries follows suit, and on approaching Place de la Concorde, it is flanked by two museums - Musée de l'Orangerie and Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume. A Luxor obelisk sits in the centre of Place de la Concorde, with Fontaines de la Concorde on its either side.
Avenue des Champs-Élysées continues the axis from Place de la Concorde, lined with well-kept Jardins des Champs-Élysées which open to the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais to its south, and the Palais de l'Élysée to its north. The thoroughfares stretch until the Arc de Triomphe at Place Charles-de-Gaulle (also known as Étoile for the starburst shape of the avenues leading to the roundabout).
The axis extends further Avenue de la Grande Armée until Place de la Porte Maillot, where the Palais des Congrès is located, and Bois de Boulogne spreads to the southwest. Avenue Charles de Gaulle picks up from here all the way to La Défense, where La Grande Arche acts as the western capping point of Axe Historique.
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Traditionally, the axis linked the Palais des Tuileries to the Arc de Triomphe, by way of the great avenue of Champs-Élysées. It all began with the creation of Champs-Élysées, as extension to the garden axis of Palais des Tuileries. As the great avenue became fashionable, the bosquet plantings alongside extending to meet the back gardens of the houses along Faubourg Saint-Honoré, including Palais Élysée.
In the 1830s, the Luxor obelisk was installed at the centre of Place de la Concorde (formerly Place Louis XV as well as Place de la Révolution) and be a part of the Axe Historique. The obelisk was flanked by two fountains along the length of the place. At the same time, each corner of the octagon of Place de la Concorde, statues representing the French cities of Lille, Strasbourg, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Nantes, Brest and Rouen were installed. The axis was formed in its primary incarnation with the completion of the Arc de Triomphe in 1836.
To the east, the Palais des Tuileries also formed another axis with the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and the Palais du Louvre. This axis was dictated by the flow of River Seine, thus the location of the Palais du Louvre. In late 19th century, the Palais des Tuileries was destroyed, opening the space to directly link the Axe Historique to the Palais du Louvre, although not without a slight axial skew that was previously disguised by the Palais des Tuileries and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.
At the turn of the 20th century, the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais were constructed for 1900 Exposition Universelle, adding to the number of notable sights to the axis. By now, the merchants along the avenue were also trading exceptionally, and had even formed a syndicate to enhance and to promote the beautiful avenue. Today, the avenue is lined with various boutiques, shops, cinemas, cafés and restaurants running on both sides.
The Axe Historique was extended beyond the city boundary of Paris, to the business district of La Défense, in mid-20th century. Modern vision of the district was not initiated until 1980s and in 1990, La Grande Arche de la Fraternité was inaugurated as a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals. This "completes" the axis as we know it today.
In recent years, proposals have been put forward to rebuild the Palais des Tuileries, which would alter the Axe Historique once again. A committee for the reconstruction has been set up for this purpose, but the debate is still ongoing after several years. Most recently, the Comité Français d’Histoire de l’Art in February 2009 announced its unanimous opposition to the project for the reconstruction.
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Numerous notable sights and attractions lie along the Axe Historique. If a visitor is in short supply of sightseeing time, this would be the one area not be to be missed, along with the Eiffel Tower (which, incidentally, can easily be spotted from Jardin des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, and the top of Arc of Triomphe). In order to appreciate the alignment of the axis, stand at the centre of Jardin des Tuileries (near the pond) and observe.
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Métro line 1 runs along the entire Axe Historique, with the stops of Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre, Concorde, Champs-Élysées-Clemenceau, Franklin D Roosevelt, George V, Charles de Gaulle-Étoile, Argentine, Porte Maillot, Les Sablons, Pont de Neuilly, Esplanade de La Défense and La Défense.
RER A runs only a part of the Axe Historique, between Charles de Gaulle-Étoile and La Défense, without any other stops in between.
It is not, in general, advisable for visitors to drive along Axe Historique, and particular care and adeptness is required in approaching Place de la Concorde as well as the roundabouts of Place Charles de Gaulle (where Arc de Triomphe sits) and Place de la Porte Maillot.
On-street parking spots are hard to come by, but there are carparks conveniently located along the axis. The majority are managed by Vinci Park and for searches of carparks in the area near Champs-Élysées, indicate the postcode as 75008.
Batobus stops that are closest to the Axe Historique are Louvre and Champs-Élysées (near Pont Alexandre III, therefore adjacent to the Grand Palais and Petit Palais side of Champs-Élysées).
It is very easy to walk between Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées and the Louvre. A leisurely direct walk from one end to the other takes approximately 45 minutes. It is too far to comfortably walk to La Défense, and takes at least a couple of hours.
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There are numerous eateries and bars along the Axe Historique, from fast food joints for someone looking for something quick and cheap, to dress-coded high-end dining in award winning restaurants, and everything in between. Here is a small selection of them around Champs-Élysées and near Louvre.
Tea Room, Pâtisserie and Chocolate
Restaurants and Bistrots
Fine Dining (Michelin Star Restaurants)
Bars and Clubs
|Crowns Etoile Hotel||30 rue de l'Arc de Triomphe, 75017||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Angleterre Étoile||21 rue Copernic, 75116||Hotel||76|
|Hotel Boetie||81 rue la Boetie, 75008||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Concortel||21 rue Pasquier, 75008||Hotel||-|
|Hotel du Quai Voltaire||19 quai Voltaire, 75007||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Élysee Park||5 rue Ponthieu, 75008||Hotel||-|
|Hotel George Sand||18 avenue Marceau, 75008||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Kleber||7 rue Belloy, 75116||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Lille - Louvre||8 rue du Pelican, 75001||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Louvre Richelieu||51 rue de Richelieu, 75001||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Neva||14 rue Brey, 75017||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Residence Concorde||5 rue Cambon, 75001||Hotel||-|
|Jardin de Neuilly||5 rue Paul Déroulede, Neuilly sur Seine-Paris, 92200||Hotel||-|
|Le Belfast||10 avenue Carnot, 75017||Hotel||-|
|Louvre Piemont||22 rue de Richelieu, 75001||Hotel||-|
|Neuilly Park Hotel||23 rue Madeleine Michelis, Neuilly sur Seine-Paris, 92200||Hotel||-|
|New Hotel Roblin||6 rue Cheauvau Lagarde, 75008||Hotel||-|
|Paris Elysees||24 rue de Miromesnil, 75008||Hotel||-|
Many hotels around Champs-Élysées are luxury hotels, with the price tags to prove it. Avenue George V boasts of at least three which are world-renowned - Four Seasons Hôtel George V, Hôtel Prince de Galles and Hôtel Fouquet's Barrière. At Place de la Concorde, Hôtel de Crillon is housed inside a historical monument in its own right. Hôtel Plaza Athénée and Hôtel Le Meurice even house 3-star Michelin restaurants. Those seeking familiar names will also find chains of Park Hyatt, Sofitel and Westin.
Off Arc de Triomphe
Off Louvre and Tuileries
By La Défense
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