Place de La Concorde
Best metro stations for Place de la Concorde is:
As a tourist attraction the busy Place de la Concorde doesn't at first seem to have the right ingredients - it is after all just a large square - the largest in Paris - with a couple of fountains and 'Cleopatra's needle' (the Luxor Obelisk, a 3,300 year old Egyptian obelisk erected on the square in October 1836) and at times is very busy with traffic but it is its location and the addition of a large Ferris wheel that draws crowds.
It doesn't matter how many times or during what season of the year we visit here, it always impresses us. The fact that you are surrounded by Paris landmarks, with the Eiffel Tower in the distance, the view of the Arc de Triomph up the Champs Elysees and down through the Tuileries Gardens to the Louvre.
If you have only one day in Paris then this square should definitely be a place you should visit as just one three hundred and sixty degree turn will let you know exactly where you are.
A brief history.
This grand boulevard actually grew out of marshlands. In the early 17th century Marie de Médicis (Queen of France 1600-1610) decided to create a tree-lined pathway through them, calling it 'Cours de la Reine' - 'the way of the Queen'. It was further developed by Le Nôtre, gardener of the Château de Versailles and renamed the 'Grand Cours', extending all the way to the Château Saint-Germain the residence of King Louis XIV.
In 1709 it was renamed 'Champs Elysées' (English 'Elysian Fields') In Greek mythology 'Elusia' was a place for heroes to relax so it had already gained a degree of prestige and was obviously destined for greater things!. The avenue's definition as we know it today was formed by 1724 extending to the "Butte de Chaillot" (place de l’Etoile) but remained relatively free of buildings until late in the 18th century when it became popular with wealthy Parisians. It would however take until the mid 19th century, when it was acquired by the 'City of Paris', before they had sidewalks and street lighting installed. This attracted some of the wealthiest families of the city, like the Rothchilds, to build mansions, most of which have now been lost to time, on the 'avenue' and then more facilities to keep them entertained.
The beginning of the 20th century saw the arrival the Paris metro line 1 at the 'Etoile' station which in turn attracted more and more restaurants and hotels. In 1902 the metro line was extended directly under the avenue which then attracted more commercial organizations to set up headquarters here gaining a then prestigious address and this in turn heralded the arrival of luxury shops to cater for demands of their new customers. The Champs Elysées had now arrived as a symbol of modern Paris.
The last major change was as recent as 1994 when the lanes allocated to traffic were reduced and given over to pedestrians.
The Champs Elysées today plays host to many prestigious events including the Bastille Day parade and the finish line of the Tour de France.
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