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By Roberta Stuart
Many visitors to France decide to stay in a Paris boutique hotel in order to see the famous city's sights and visit its iconic attractions. Whether it's climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower, or strolling through the grounds of the Sorbonne, Paris is full of remarkable experiences; but taking time for a walk down the Champs-Élysées ranks as one of the most enjoyable ways to spend an afternoon in the city. It's known in Paris as 'La plus belle avenue du monde' - the most beautiful avenue in the world. The avenue is a piece of the city's history, having been a focal point for Parisian life since it was first developed, as a series of fields and market gardens in 1616. The name itself is the French translation of 'Elysian Fields', the home of the dead in Greek mythology.
Though it originally began as a procession of trees running through gardens and markets in 1616, by the 18th century the Champs-Élysées had become a fashionable avenue, with the Élysée Palace close by. It's reported that Queen Marie Antoinette drove with her friends and took music lessons at the Grand Hotel de Crillon on the Place Louis XV, nearby. The Champs-Élysées itself was officially made city property in 1828, and numerous features were added to modernise the avenue; footpaths, fountains, and gas lighting have made it into the familiar attraction it is today, only steps from many a Paris boutique hotel.
One of the most famous streets in the world, the Champs-Élysées famous ends its 2-kilometre run through Paris at the Arc de Triomphe, which was originally constructed by Napoleon Bonaparte to honour his military victories. The lower part of the Champs-Élysées, in accordance with its origins, is still bordered by trees and greenery, and famous buildings such as the Theatre Marigny and the Grand Palais. The avenue is also lined with cinemas, cafes, restaurants, and luxury specialty shops, making it one of the most famous streets in the world for upscale shopping. It is the delight of many visitors venturing from their Paris boutique hotel looking for the latest fashions and designer clothing. However, the avenue takes care to maintain its historical and cultural roots, and while walking in the gardens, visitors can stumble upon a traditional open-air French marionette theatre for children.
The Champs-Élysées is home to plenty of events every year, and visitors staying in nearby Paris boutique hotels are often treated to numerous parades and displays while they're going about their shopping on the avenue. Every year on Bastille Day, for example, the biggest military parade in Europe passes along the Champs-Élysées, reviewed by the President of the Republic. From late November until early January, shoppers are treated to beautiful holiday lighting along the avenue; and in 2011, the last stage of the Tour de France will finish on the famous avenue, with the awards ceremony also taking place there.
Looking for a Paris boutique hotel? Roberta Stuart is the Travel Manager for World Hotels, a company offering the best rooms at a Paris boutique hotel and a selection of unique and four and five star hotels around the world.
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