Paris Tour Eiffel > Champs-Élysées
07/24/2022 - Stage 1 - 82 km - Flat
On the road
Pont d’Iéna (Iéna Bridge)
Construction: 1808 to 1814
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1975.
Characteristics: the Iéna bridge links the Eiffel Tower to the Trocadero. On the right bank, it gives access to Avenue de New York. On the left bank, it separates the port of La Bourdonnais from the port of Suffren and crosses the Quai Jacques-Chirac. It is 155-m long and 34-m wide.
History: Emperor Napoleon I had a bridge built opposite the École Militaire (Military School) and named it after the Battle of Iena by a decree issued in Warsaw in 1807. Its construction lasted from 1808 to 1814, under the direction of engineers Corneille Lamandé and Dillon. In 1815, during the second occupation of Paris by the Allied powers, Marshal Blücher wanted to destroy the bridge. The intervention of the Tsar himself was necessary to make him listen to reason. During the 1900 Universal Exhibition, the bridge was widened to 24 metres by adding metal footbridges resting on the original piers, then again from 14 to 35 metres for the 1937 Universal Exhibition.
Special features: in 1853, four sculptures were placed at the ends of the bridge. On the left bank, a Gallic Cavalier by Auguste Préault; a Roman Cavalier by Louis-Joseph Daumas. On the right bank, an Arab Cavalier by Jean-Jacques Feuchère and a Greek Cavalier by François Théodore Devaulx
Pont de l’Alma (Alma Bridge)
Construction: 1854 to 1856 then 1970 to 1974.
Characteristics: This bridge links Quai Branly (in the 7th arrondissement, on the left bank) to Avenue de New York (in the 8th and 16th arrondissements, on the right bank). It is a 153-m long and 42-m wide arch bridge. Its name commemorates the Battle of the Alma (1854) during the Crimean War.
History: the bridge was built from 1854 to 1856 under the direction of Hyacinthe Gariel. It was inaugurated by Napoleon III on April 2, 1856 (initially its inauguration was planned for the World Fair of 1855). From 1970 to 1974, the bridge was completely replaced, due to its narrowness and settlement.
Zouave of the Alma bridge
Characteristics: The Zouave, known as the Zouave of pont de l'Alma, is a stone statue by Georges Diebolt dating from 1856, one of four sculptures representing the troops who took part in the Crimean War, initially fixed on the piers of the old Alma bridge in Paris, and the only one that remains today at this location. André-Louis Gody (1828-1896), who was born and died in Gravelines, is often presented as the soldier who served as the model for this statue; he is said to have been spotted by Napoleon III himself during a troop review.The statue is 5.2 metres high, weighs 8 tonnes and cost 22,500 francs, including the supply of materials and scaffolding costs.
History: The bridge takes its name from the Battle of the Alma in the Crimea, won in 1854 by the British, French, Ottoman Turks and a Piedmontese expeditionary force against the Russians. The 3rd Zouave Regiment had particularly distinguished itself during the Battle of the Alma by successfully capturing the enemy's guns.
Between 1970 and 1974, the bridge was rebuilt due to the narrowness and subsidence of the original bridge, and the Jäger, the Gunner and the Grenadier were moved to other sites. As the new bridge has only one pier on the right bank (8th arrondissement), only the Zouave remains.
The story: according to Parisian tradition, when "the Zouave has his feet in the water", the Seine is in flood. During the historic flood of 1910, the level of the Seine rose to 8.62 m and the water reached the shoulders of the Zouave
Death of Lady Diana
The Pont de l'Alma is located near the tunnel where the Princess of Wales, Lady Diana, was fatally injured on August 31, 1997. This tunnel, often referred to as the "Pont de l'Alma tunnel", is actually located between the bridge and the Place de l'Alma. Overlooking this tunnel is the Flame of Liberty, a life-size replica of the flame of the Statue of Liberty. This monument, donated by the International Herald Tribune newspaper in 1987, commemorates the Franco-American friendship and thanks France for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. It has been diverted from its original function and has spontaneously become a place of recollection for admirers of the late princess. The right of way on which the monument is located is called Diana Square.
Place de la Concorde
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1937.
Features: The Place de la Concorde, which covers 8.64 hectares, is the largest square in Paris. The name was chosen by the Directory to mark the reconciliation of the French after the excesses of the Terror. The name was finally adopted in 1830.
History: This monumental ensemble is, from the point of view of urban planning, the most important creation of the Enlightenment years in the capital. Its name has changed many times, reflecting the instability of France's political regimes since 1789, and was fixed in 1830. The main improvements to the square date from the July Monarchy (in 1836, erection of the obelisk, embellishment work by Hittorff: the two fountains, the statues of the eight main cities of France (the eight "matrons" dressed in Greek style and crowned with towers, their pedestals, the lamp posts and the rostral columns). Since 1937, no significant change has been allowed to affect the square, which is listed as a whole. In 1998, on the initiative of Egyptologist Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, the golden pyramidion of the obelisk was installed.
Obelisk on Place de la Concorde
Construction: 13th century B.C. Installed on Place de la Concorde in 1836.
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1937.
History: The 3,300-year-old Egyptian obelisk of Luxor (13th century BC) was brought to France in 1836 as a gift from Egypt in recognition of the role of Frenchman Champollion who first translated the hieroglyphs. King Louis-Philippe had it placed in the centre of the square when it was designed by architect Hittorff.
Characteristics: 22.86-metres-high, the monolith, made of pink granite from Syene, weighs 227 tons. It is erected on a 9-metre-high base and is topped by a golden pyramidion of more than three and a half metres. The hieroglyphs that cover it celebrate the glory of Pharaoh Ramses II. The top of this obelisk is surmounted by a pyramidion of more than 3.50 m, added in July 1998 on the initiative of historian Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, as pointed as it is sparkling, made of bronze and gold leaf.
A special feature: since June 1999, the obelisk has served as the gnomon for a sundial occupying the northern half of the square. The shadow of the top of the monolith, cast between converging lines, materialized on the ground by metal strips and inlays in the pavement of the square, indicates the solar time in Roman numerals at the end of the lines. The two curves of the solstices and the straight line of the equinoxes are materialized by bronze nails embedded in the pavement.
Rue de Rivoli
Establishment: 1802 to 1850.
Characteristics: it extends over more than 3 km, from rue de Sévigné to Place de la Concorde. It notably crosses Place des Pyramides (famous for its statue of Joan of Arc). It is lined with arcades on its northern side for a large part of its length designed by Percier and Fontaine. The western part of the street (which corresponds roughly to the part with the arcades) was pierced during the First Empire.
A little history: Rue de Rivoli refers to the Battle of Rivoli, won in 1797 by Napoleon Bonaparte over Austria at Rivoli Veronese. Rivoli refers to the latter place and not, as the name of the street might suggest, to the Lombard city of Rivoli, known for its longest avenue in Europe.
Creation: from 1564.
Listing: listed as a Historical Monument in 1914. Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Characteristics: it is bounded by the Louvre Palace to the south-east, Rue de Rivoli to the north-east, Place de la Concorde to the north-west and the Seine to the south-west. It is the largest and oldest French garden in the capital, which was once the Tuileries Palace, a former royal and imperial residence, burned and destroyed in 1871.
History: in the 13th century, there were vacant lots and tile factories here. In 1564, Catherine de Medici began the construction of the Tuileries palace here, and at the same time began the development of an Italian garden. In 1664, Colbert and Louis XIV ordered that the garden be completely redesigned by André Le Nôtre. During the Revolution, the garden witnessed the great events of which the palace itself was the scene, notably the capture of the Tuileries on 10 August 1792. During the Second Empire, Napoleon III had two identical buildings constructed at the western corners of the garden: an orangery in 1852, to the south-west, which today houses a museum of modern art, the Musée de l'Orangerie; and a jeu de paume in 1861, to the north-west, which today houses a museum of contemporary art, the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume. The Tuileries Palace was destroyed by fire during the Paris Commune in 1871. To the east of the garden, near the Carrousel arch, are numerous statues by Aristide Maillol.
Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Avenue des Champs-Élysées is located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. It runs for 1,910 metres from east to west, linking Place de la Concorde and Place Charles-de-Gaulle (formerly Place de l'Étoile). In its lower part, east of the Champs-Élysées-Marcel-Dassault roundabout, the avenue is bordered by counter-alleys (called "promenade des Champs-Élysées") running alongside the Champs-Élysées gardens, which the avenue crosses over their entire length (700 metres).
Originally, the Champs-Élysées were only marshy and uninhabited land. Marie de Medici decided to build a long avenue, Cours la Reine, which opened in 1616. Louis XIV, wishing to embellish and extend the capital, decided to raze the fortifications and build large avenues. He commissioned André Le Nôtre to lay out this "avenue des Tuileries" as a royal axis through the woods and marshes along the Seine. From the present-day Place de la Concorde to the present-day roundabout on the Champs-Élysées, Le Nôtre laid out a beautiful avenue lined with elm trees and lawns. It is called the "Grand-Cours" to distinguish it from Cours la Reine. The name Champs-Élysées was not definitively fixed until 1709.
The Champs-Élysées had a bad reputation for a long time. It was a place of joints that attracted bad boys, prostitutes and even brigands. The popularity of the Champs-Élysées, which took on its definitive name (1789), only really took off during the French Revolution. It was via the Champs-Élysées that the procession of shrews passed through on their way to Versailles on 5 October 1789 to bring the royal family back to Paris. It was also via the Champs-Élysées that the royal family was brought back to Paris on 25 June 1791 after fleeing Varennes, between two hedges of National Guards. Under the Terror, the Place de la Concorde was the scene of capital executions.
From 1834, architect Jacques Hittorff was commissioned to redevelop the gardens of the Champs-Élysées, in parallel with his work on Place de la Concorde. He created English-style flowerbeds, undertook new planting and built four fountains. Hittorf also designed the cast-iron lampposts that are still in place. In the project he submitted to the city council in 1835, Hittorff also proposed the creation of a panorama, a circus, luxury restaurants and cafés and a theatre. During the Universal Exhibition of 1855, the Champs-Élysées became the fashionable place to be. While the avenue had only six houses in 1800, it was soon lined with buildings, mansions and bourgeois houses.
The Second Empire was a golden period for the Champs-Élysées. The avenue, lined with luxurious mansions, became the Mecca of elegant Parisian life.
After falling into disrepair, the avenue was finally renovated in the early 1990s and inaugurated on 26 September 1994 by Jacques Chirac, the mayor of Paris at the time.
Every year since 1975, the last stage of the Tour de France ends on the Champs-Élysées with a real parade after more than three weeks of racing.
Place Charles-de-Gaulle (formerly Place de l'Étoile)
Characteristics: Place Charles-de-Gaulle, formerly Place de l'Étoile, at the centre of which is the Arc de Triomphe, is one of the ends of the Champs-Élysées avenue. Divided between the 8th, 16th and 17th arrondissements, the square is one of the most prestigious squares in Paris. Although it was renamed in 1970, its former name of "Place de l'Étoile" is still frequently used. It is served by the Charles de Gaulle-Étoile metro station.
History: This square was created around 1670 at the top of the northern part of the hill of Chaillot. The mound was called Butte de l'Étoile from 1730 (commonly "Étoile de Chaillot"), because of the paths that intersect there and give it the shape of a star. The construction of a triumphal arch in the centre of the square, begun in 1806 by order of Napoleon I, was completed in 1836 under the reign of Louis-Philippe. Under the Second Empire, the star of the large avenues radiating around the square was completed and the square was redesigned by architect Jacques Hittorff, under the control of Baron Haussmann, prefect of the Seine from 1853 onwards, who reorganised Paris.
The Arc de Triomphe
Construction: 1806 to 1836
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1896.
Characteristics: The Arc de Triomphe stands in the centre of Place Charles-de-Gaulle. It is located in the axis and at the western end of Avenue des Champs-Élysées. It is 49.54-m high, 44.82-m wide and 22.21-m deep and is managed by the Centre of National Monuments. The monument weighs 50,000 tons (actually 100,000 tons if you take into account the foundations, which sink to a depth of 8.37 m).
History: Napoleon I, the day after the battle of Austerlitz, told his soldiers: "You will only return to your homes under triumphal arches.”
By an imperial decree dated February 18, 1806, he ordered the construction of this triumphal arch dedicated to the memory of the victories of the French armies. The construction was carried out between 1832 and 1836 by architect Guillaume-Abel Blouet. The Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated on 29 July 1836 for the sixth anniversary of the 1830 Revolution.
Special features: the Arc de Triomphe is one of the national monuments with a strong historical connotation. Its importance has been reinforced since the remains of the Unknown Soldier, killed in the First World War, were buried there on January 28, 1921. Two years later, André Maginot, then Minister of War, supported the project to install a "flame of remembrance" there, which was lit for the first time on November 11,1923.
Construction: 1897 to 1900.
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1975 and 2000.
Characteristics: Grand Palais is a Parisian monument located on the edge of the Champs-Élysées, opposite Petit Palais, from which it is separated by Winston-Churchill Avenue, in the 8th arrondissement. Its 77,000 m2 are regularly used to host fairs and exhibitions.
History: the "Grand Palais des Beaux-Arts" was built in Paris from 1897, for the World Fait planned for April 15 to November 12, 1900, in place of the vast but uncomfortable Palais de l'Industrie of 1855. "As the pediment of the west wing (Palais d'Antin) indicates, Grand Palais was originally intended to host the capital's major official artistic events. Grand Palais has hosted major exhibitions as well as fairs (car shows, book fairs) and, above all, retrospectives as part of the National Galleries (Picasso, Monet, Renoir, Hopper). Two major restoration campaigns took place between 2000 and 2007 and since 2020 to enable Grand Palais to host the fencing events of the 2024 Olympic Games.
Special features: Palais de la Découverte (Discovery Palace) at the 1937 World Fair was installed in the west wing of Grand Palais. It was originally conceived as a temporary display, but due to its success, it was eventually moved to the western part of Grand Palais. Today it is a real institution whose popularity has never waned.
The story: in the 1960s, Le Corbusier wanted to demolish Grand Palais to replace it with the Museum of 20th Century Art that André Malraux had commissioned him to design. The architect's death on August 27, 1965 put an end to the project.
Construction: 1900 (architect: Charles Girault).
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1975.
Characteristics and history: Petit Palais, built for the 1900 World Fair by architect Charles Girault, houses the Paris Museum of Fine Arts. It is located on avenue Winston-Churchill, opposite Grand Palais.
Petit Palais is organised around a semi-circular garden. The exhibition areas are located on the first floor, the ground floor originally being devoted to offices and storerooms. The façade is almost 125 m long, centred by a monumental porch topped by a dome. Ionic columns with diagonal scrolls adorn the main face as well as the semi-circular peristyle of the inner courtyard. The decoration is completed by numerous bas-reliefs.
Charles Girault designed the spaces to be lit only by natural light, creating skylights, transparent domes and large windows. The museum was closed between 2001 and 2005 for renovation.
Collections: the Museum of Fine Arts is especially noteworthy for its collections of Flemish and Dutch painters (Rembrandt, Rubens) and French painters of the 19th and 20th centuries (Cézanne, Renoir, Corot, Monet, Courbet, Géricault, Sisley, Toulouse-Lautrec).
Construction: 1894 (architect: Édouard Niermans).
Listing: listed as a historic monument in 1990.
Characteristics: It is located in Marigny Square, at the corner of Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Avenue de Marigny, in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. It has two halls, the large hall with a capacity of 1,024 spectators and the Elvire Popesco hall (311).
History: the theatre was built in 1894 by fashionable architect Édouard Niermans (Moulin Rouge, Hôtel Negresco) on the site of previous theatres - Salle Lacaze (1848-1855), Bouffes-Parisiens (1855-59), Théâtre Debureau (1859-65), Folies-Marigny (1865-1880), Panorama Marigny (1883-1894). The theatre has been directed by some of the greatest names in French theatre, Simone Volterra, Jean-Louis Barrault and Madeleine Renaud, Elvire Popesco and Robert Hossein.
Inauguration: June 20, 1946.
Characteristics: The Lido (or Lido de Paris) is a Parisian cabaret located 116 bis avenue des Champs-Élysées (8th arrondissement). Inaugurated in 1946 by Joseph and Louis Clerico, the place is famous for its shows in which dancers, singers and various artists perform. It can accommodate 1,150 spectators.
History: Originally located at 78 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the Lido was a place of entertainment and bathing for the privileged social classes. The decoration was inspired by Venice and its famous Lido beach. In 1936, the establishment was transformed into a theatre. Of Italian origin, Joseph and Louis Clerico bought the Lido in 1946 and developed the "dinner and show" formula, which attracted the Parisian elite. In 1977, the Lido moved to 116 bis des Champs-Élysées, with a surface area of over 6,000 m2. The venue was later taken over by Sodexo and then the Accor group (2022). Édith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich, Joséphine Baker, the Kessler sisters, Laurel and Hardy, Dalida, Shirley MacLaine and Elton John all performed in the cabaret.
Special feature: it is normally open every day of the year and presents two shows a night.
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1990.
Characteristics: Fouquet's is a restaurant located at 99, avenue des Champs-Élysées.
History: in 1899, lemonade maker Louis Fouquet created a luxury bar called "The Criterion-Fouquet's Bar", in the Anglo-American style of the time, following the example of his Parisian colleague Maxim's in the Rue Royale. In 1913, Léopold Mourier managed the establishment after the death of Louis Fouquet. His partner Louis Barraya took over the establishment, followed by Maurice Drouant. Maurice Canova took over the establishment in the mid-1970s. His association with Georges Cravenne enabled him to strengthen the restaurant's links with the film industry. In 1998, the restaurant was taken over by the Barrière group, which then extended the brand to other establishments in the group.
Trivia: one of the leading restaurants in the Parisian social life, it was frequented by famous clients such as French president Raymond Poincaré, American president Theodore Roosevelt, Aristide Briand, Paul Poiret, aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, carmaker Ettore Bugatti, actor Pierre Brasseur, writer Colette, Liane de Pougy, the Aga Khan III, but also the greatest stars of the cinema, because of the proximity of the production houses: Raimu (who lived at 17 rue Washington and made the nearby Fouquet's his canteen and "office"), Marcel Pagnol, Fernandel, Tino Rossi, Marcel Carné, Sacha Guitry, Maurice Chevalier, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Joséphine Baker, Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren, Jeanne Moreau Michèle Morgan, Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura, Alain Delon, Gene Kelly, Orson Welles, Yves Montand and Simone Signoret, Catherine Deneuve, Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Galabru, Charles Aznavour, Kirk Douglas or Gérard Depardieu, François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Claude Chabrol.
Every year, the brasserie hosts the César gala dinner following the ceremony, in partnership with the Académie des arts et techniques du cinéma.