A Walking Tour of the Champs-Élysées in Paris

One of the best ways to take in a new-to-you place is to explore it by foot. Besides being able to start and stop at your own pace and discover off-the-beaten-path finds, walking is an accessible way to keep up with fitness during your vacation. Many destinations offer walking tours and public workouts in parks, but you can also get creative with your own course.

This walk along Paris' Avenue des Champs-Élysées—one of the world's grandest shopping areas—spans the historic Arc de Triomphe to the Musée de Louvre and clocks in at 2.25 miles each way, but you may want to make side detours or browse shops and gardens along the way. And since this walk starts and ends at locations with a Metro stop, if you opt out of the round trip, you can hop on the Metro when you're done.

1

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe - Paris - France

Wendy Bumgardner

Commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, the ornate Arc de Triomphe is the largest arch in the world. You can find out just how tall it is by climbing 280 steps and paying a fee to reach the top, which has a panoramic view of Paris. Since it sits on a hill, the walk is mostly downhill from this point.

Traffic whizzes around the Arc de Triomphe, so exercise safety by using the pedestrian tunnel from the Avenue de la Grande Armee or the Wagram exit of the Metro to get to and from the Arc itself.

You can reach the Arc de Triomphe by the Metro (lines 1, 2, and 6 stop Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile), by bus, or as a stop on the hop-on, hop-off tour bus route.

2

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - Arc de Triomphe - Paris - France

Wendy Bumgardner 

Beneath the Arc de Triomphe is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier established with Britain's similar grave at Westminster Abbey on November 11, 1920 (Armistice Day) following World War I. The Tomb is marked by an "eternal" flame that's rekindled every evening. You may have seen a similar tribute at the grave of former President John F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery—wife Jacqueline had been inspired by the flame at Paris' tomb.

To continue the walk down the Champs-Élysées, look for the pedestrian tunnel and circle to the Champs-Élysées.

3

Cobblestone stretches

Cobblestones of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées - Paris - France

Wendy Bumgardner 

As you walk the next half mile on the Champs-Élysées, the street is lined with world-class shops and cafes with curbside seating (even a McDonald's). The sidewalks are wide but often jammed with tourists, which can prevent you from walking quickly or at your desired speed. For example, it can take an hour to walk less than a mile without even stopping. Be careful of your footing—there's a gutter in the middle of the sidewalk and tree planters with raised edges.

If you're a fan of the Tour de France, you may recognize this iconic street from the annual bike race. Each July, the weeks-long race culminates with circuits on the Champs-Elysées, whose cobblestones make for a challenging cycling surface. But savvy racers use that gutter lining for a smoother ride.

For walkers, there are pedestrian crossings of the Champs-Elysées to get from one side to the other, but it's a wide street best toured on each side with minimal crossings.

4

Tree-Lined Paths

Walking Along the Champs-Elysées, Paris

Wendy Bumgardner

After the first half-mile section of shops and bistros, you'll reach a roundabout where the Avenue Franklin Roosevelt and Avenue Montaigne cross the Champs-Élysées. Use the pedestrian crossings and enter into a more park-like area lined with horse chestnut trees. The next mile along the Champs-Élysées gives you the chance to get away from the traffic noise with park benches to rest (and public restrooms) if needed. You can stick to the paved sidewalk closer to the street, or take a side path on light gravel through the park-like setting to the Théâtre Marigny.

5

Fountain by the Théâtre Marigny

Fountain by Theatre Marigny - Paris - France

Wendy Bumgardner 

Near the one-mile mark, a detour onto the gravel paths brings you to this fountain outside the Théâtre Marigny, which opened in 1855 and now serves as a venue for plays, musicals, and other events.

Just north on the Avenue de Marigny is the Élysée Palace, France's "White House," and stalls of stamp vendors. South, across the Champs-Élysées, is the Grand Palais.

Continuing your walk toward the Louvre, cross Avenue Marigny via crosswalks onto the tree-lined sidewalk or gravel paths.

6

Obelisk of Luxor in the Place de la Concorde

Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde - Paris - France

Wendy Bumgardner

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées extends from the Place de la Concorde in the east to the Arc de Triomphe in the west, just over one mile. Cross carefully with the pedestrian signals to the concrete oval of the Place de la Concorde, the site of the guillotine that executed King Louis XVI, Queen Marie Antoinette, and many others during the French Revolution.

The Obelisk of Luxor was a gift to France from the Ottoman rulers of Egypt in 1829, moved to this site in 1839. The 3,300-year-old obelisk originally was located at the entrance to Luxor Temple in Egypt and commemorates the reign of Ramses II.

From this vantage point, you can see the Eiffel Tower to the west and the stone buildings of the French Naval Ministry and the Hôtel de Crillon to the north.

7

Tuileries Gardens

Walk Through Tuileries Gardens - Paris - France

Wendy Bumgardner 

Continuing east from the Place de la Concorde, you can stroll tree-lined paths in the Jardin des Tuileries. Offering a respite from the noise of Champs-Élysées' shopping district, the garden has shade and numerous benches for people-watching. This section extends for roughly a quarter of a mile.

8

Grand Carré at the Jardin des Tuileries

Tuileries Gardens - Paris - France

Wendy Bumgardner 

You'll now reach the open eastern end of the Jardin des Tuileries, the Grand Carré. Here you can take in the formal flower beds and see how it was originally arranged as the gardens of Catherine de Medici in the mid-1500s. You might spot art installations, which rotate frequently.

When you reach the far east end of this square, you've walked two miles.

9

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel - Paris - France

Wendy Bumgardner

At the east end of the Jardin des Tuileries, you'll see another triumphal arch to Napoleon's victories, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel with its hedges forming a fan facing west.

10

The Pyramid of the Musée du Louvre

Louvre Pyramid - Paris - France

Wendy Bumgardner

From the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs-Élysées, and through the Jardin des Tuileries to now the Pyramid of the Musée du Louvre—you've hit 2.25 miles.

The Louvre is one of the world's most celebrated art museums, home to "The Mona Lisa," "The Winged Victory of Samothrace" and the "Venus de Milo."

If you enter via the Pyramid entrance, you'll go through a security screen before descending to buy tickets and visit the shops (and free restrooms.) If you want to take a pause, shop, or have some coffee, enter from the Rue de Rivoli to the Carrousel du Louvre shopping center. You can also access the Metro in this location to take you back to the Arc de Triomphe or other Paris locations if you don't want to retrace your steps.

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Article Sources
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  1. Paris: Official website of the convention and tourism bureau. Arc de Triomphe.

  2. Westminster Abbey. Unknown Warrior.

  3. Paris: Official website of the convention and tourism bureau. Théâtre Marigny.

  4. Paris: Official website of the convention and tourism bureau. Place de la Concorde.

  5. Paris: official website of the convention and visitors bureau. Jardin des Tuileries.