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Champs-Élysees

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

Anchoring the Champs is the 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 Paris’s most impressive buildings. The Palais de Chaillot complex includes the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, a must for architecture buffs, along with the nautical-themed Musée National de la Marine and the anthropology-oriented Musée de l'Homme. Farther on, the Musée Guimet has a superlative Asian art collection. The Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, on Avenue du Président Wilson, contains a free permanent collection of 20th-century pieces. Contemporary-art lovers should also check out what's showing next door at the trendy Palais de Tokyo. These twin Art Nouveau buildings, constructed for the 1937 World's Fair, are notable for their monumental facades. Across the street is the Palais Galliera: framed by a lovely garden outside, it has a museum inside that focuses on fashion.

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