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Champs-Élysées

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Welcome to bling-bling Paris. Make no mistake, the Champs-Élysées, while ceding some of its elegance in recent times, remains the city's—if not the world's—most famous avenue. Like New York's Times Square, or London's Piccadilly Circus, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées inspires boldness. Parisians complain that fast-food joints and chain stores have cheapened the avenue, but others are more philosophical, noting there is something here for everyone: if you can't afford lunch at Ladurée, there's always McDonald's (and the view from the second floor is terrific).

Anchoring the Champs is the mighty Arc de Triomphe, Napoléon's monument to himself. At the other end, the exquisitely restored Grand Palais plays host to some of the city's grandest art exhibitions. Across the street, the permanent art collection is free at the Petit Palais, and there's also a quiet garden café. Between here and Place du Trocadéro, a busy traffic circle, you can find several museums housed in some of the city's most impressive buildings: at the Palais de Chaillot complex is the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, a must for architecture buffs, and across the plaza is the charming Musée de la Marine. Farther on, the Asian art collection is tops at the Musée Guimet. For 20th-century art, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, on Avenue du Président-Wilson, has an impressive free permanent collection. Contemporary-art lovers should also check out what's showing next door at the trendy Palais de Tokyo. These twin buildings were built for the 1937 World's Fair, and are impressive simply for their monumental facades. Across the street is the Palais Galliera, a museum framed by a lovely garden; showing fashion-theme special exhibitions.

Champs-Élysées at a Glance

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