|Bonjour! We could not resist a leisurely walk through the most beautiful sections of the “City of Light” to promenade down the world’s most elegant avenue: the Champs-Elysées.
The Historic Road
At its origin, it was simply a very ambitious king’s will to modernize an urban landscape. King Louis the Fourteenth believed that France, the first nation of the Occident, required in its capital city a “Grand Course” so to speak, so he ordered a straight line drawn between the Louvre and the Castle of St-Germain. Until the reign of Louis Sixteenth, the limits of this road would stop at the Chaillot Hill (known today as Place de l’Etoile). In our day, this unique passage known as the “Historic Road”, is 12 kilometers in length, leaving the Louvre, passing through the Tuileries Gardens, up the Champs-Elysées to the Place de l’Etoile (where the Arc of Triumph stands), then encompassing the Grande Armée Avenue and Neuilly Avenue, finally culminating at the magnificent “Grande Arche de la Défense”. This grand road has served in the past, and still serves as the background for many of the main events in the city of Paris.
Place de la Concorde
With a total surface of about 880,000 square feet, the Place de la Concorde is the largest and probably the most famous square in Paris. The construction of this octogonal square, on which would be placed an equestrian statue of King Louis the Fifteenth, began in 1748. At that time, the goal was to embellish what was nothing but a large empty terrain, which divided the Tuileries Gardens from the Champs-Elysées. Finished in 1763, the famous square was the setting of many tragedies. In 1770, when it was still called “La Place Louis Fifteenth” a fireworks display in honor of the marriage of Marie-Antoinette to Dauphin (future King Louis Sixteenth), erupted into an uncontrolled blaze that cost the lives of more than one hundred spectators. A few years later, when the square was referred to as “La Place de la Révolution”, it was used as an execution site. A guillotine replaced its royal statue and more than one thousand people were killed. Executed there were Louis Sixteenth and Marie-Antoinette, both in 1793, and also Danton and Robespierre, noted revolutionaries and victims of their own fanaticism. Re-baptized “Place de la Concorde” under the Directory of Louis-Philippe, the Luxor obelisk was erected in 1836. Louis Philippe had received the 3300-year-old, 23-meter tall, 230-ton monument from the Pasha of Egypt Mehemet-Ali. It took no less than 4 years for the transport of this column from Egypt to Paris!