Axe Historique

Travel Guide Île-de-France Paris Axe Historique



Tuilleries and Tower, Paris

Tuilleries and Tower, Paris

© pcmano69

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.



From Louvre to La Défense

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.



History of the Axis

Looking down on Paris streets

Looking down on Paris streets

© orac1977

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.



Sights and Activities



© porz

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.

  • Musée du Louvre is the home to Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace and Code of Hammurabi, among its huge collection of paintings, sculptures, antiquities and other artefacts. (34 rue du Louvre, 75001; M: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre)
  • Jardin des Tuileries were once formal gardens to the Palais des Tuileries, laid out in the 17th century. (75001; M: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre, Tuileries, Concorde)
  • Musée de l'Orangerie is a gallery of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist arts, with Monet's famous water-lily series and other works by notable artists including Cézanne, Renoir and Matisse. (Jardin des Tuileries, 75001; M: Concorde)
  • Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume was the site of a former royal tennis court which now houses the Centre National de la Photographie, together with its sister site Hôtel de Sully in Marais. (1 pl de la Concorde, 75008; M: Concorde)
  • Place de la Concorde is a historic square where the guillotine was placed during the French Revolution, but today boasts an ancient 3,200-years-old Luxor obelisk, two fountains and eight statues personifying eight major French cities. (pl de la Concorde, 75008; M: Concorde)
  • Musée du Petit Palais was built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle and today is the building for Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, of which its permanent exhibition is free to visit. (av Winston Churchill, 75008; M: Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau)
  • Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais host a variety of excellently curated temporary exhibitions, recently including works of Renoir, arts from Byzantium to Istanbul, Andy Warhol, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, and Picasso and Masters. (av Eisenhower, 75008; M: Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau)
  • Palais de la Découverte is a museum of scientific discoveries which is housed in the west wing of the building of Grand Palais. (av Franklin D Roosevelt, 75008; M: Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau)
  • Champs-Élysées is the most famous thoroughfare of Paris, lined with gardens on its east end and commercial properties on its west end. (av des Champs-Élysées, 75008; M: Franklin D Roosevelt, George V, Charles de Gaulle-Étoile)
  • Arc de Triomphe commemorates Napoleon's victory in the Battle of Austerlitz and today, a tomb of an unknown soldier is placed underneath the arch, in honour of the deads from World War I. (pl Charles de Gaulle, 75008; M: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile; RER: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile)
  • Bois de Boulogne sprawls across an area of 2,137 acres with different areas within the Bois, including Bagatelle and Rose gardens, Jardin d'Acclimatation and Musée en Herbe. (75016; M: Porte Maillot, Porte Dauphine, Porte d'Auteuil, Sablons; RER: Neuilly-Porte Maillot, Avenue Foch)
  • La Défense is the economic centre just to the west of Paris and the presence of La Grande Arche adds a new dimension of culture to the Axe Historique. (92044; M: La Défense; RER: La Défense)



Getting There

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

© Kiwis r us

By Métro / RER

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.

By Car

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.

By Bus

  • Bus 73 serves the entire axis, from La Défense to Place de la Concorde
  • Bus 42, 83 and 93 partially serve the eastern end of Champs-Élysées
  • Bus 22, 30, 31, 52 and 92 serve the Arc de Triomphe
  • Bus 24, 42, 72, 72, 84, 94 serve Place de la Concorde
  • Bus 21, 24, 27, 39, 48, 68, 69, 72, 81 and 95 serve the Louvre

By Boat

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).

By Foot

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.



Food and Drink

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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.

Fast Food

  • Brioche Dorée: 78 and 144 avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008
  • Le Pain Quotidien: 18 place du Marché St. Honoré, 75001
  • McDonalds: 84 and 140 avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008
  • Paul: 84 avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008; 49 bis avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 75008; Palais des Congrès, 75017
  • Quick: 62 and 122 avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008

Tea Room, Pâtisserie and Chocolate

Restaurants and Bistrots

  • Au Gourmand: 17 rue Molière, 75001 (French)
  • Fouquet's: 99 avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 (French)
  • Graindorge: 15 rue Arc de Triomphe, 75017 (Flemish)
  • L'Alsace: 39 avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 (French-Alsace)
  • L'Atelier Renault: 53 avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 (French)
  • Léon de Bruxelles: 63 avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 (Belgian)
  • Pizza Vesuvio: 144 avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 (Italian)
  • Zen: 8 rue de L'Echelle, 75001 (Japanese)

Fine Dining (Michelin Star Restaurants)

Bars and Clubs

  • Barlotti: 35 place du Marché Saint Honoré, 75001
  • Bound: 49 avenue George V, 75008
  • Buddha Bar: 8 rue Boissy d'Anglas, 75008
  • Mojito Habana: 19 rue de Presbourg, 75016
  • Rival de Luxe: 3 avenue Matignon, 75008




For a detailed breakdown of accommodation options, please read our guide on where to stay in Paris.

Some further hotels in the vicinity are listed below.

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 Champs-Élysées

Off Arc de Triomphe

Off Louvre and Tuileries

By La Défense


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This is version 11. Last edited at 10:35 on Nov 19, 19 by Peter. 2 articles link to this page.

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