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Historical Axis

Historical Axis Walking Tour

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Why you will love it?

Walk through the “historical axis of Paris,” the famous alignment of the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysées, the Royal Gardens of the Tuileries and the majestic Louvre. A perfect way to marvel at world-famous monuments, stroll in an impeccable French garden and do some window shopping on the most beautiful avenue in the world. Enjoy! Parisianist.

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About this place

Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris
Line 1/2/6 - Charles de Gaulle Etoile
Line A - Etoile

Our Insiders' Article

Arc de Triomphe

Exit the Metro or RER station “Charles de Gaulle – Etoile” via exit 1 Champs-Elysées, and you will find yourself at the beginning of the Champs-Elysées, at the foot of the monumental Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile.  “You will return home through arches of triumph” were the words of Napoleon to his troops in 1805. Finished in 1836 after 30 years of painstaking construction, the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile is now an iconic monument in Paris. At the foot of the Arc de Triomphe lays the tomb of the Unknown Soldier of WW1 (with the eternal flame) and the sculptures on the arch illustrate the victories of Napoleon’s army.

Parisianist Fun Fact: in 1997, an Australian citizen cooked fried eggs ever the eternal flame. Access the arch via the underground walkway (entrance is in the walkway). It’s fee to walk on the base of the Arch, but climbing up to the top isn’t (9,50€ / 10AM-10:30PM). We suggest climbing up only on a sunny day for the view. The climb up is tiring (195 steps on a narrow staircase)


With the Arc de Triomphe at your back, walk east down the Champs-Elysées, coined the most beautiful avenue in the world. Choose the right hand side of the avenue if you want to avoid the busier left hand side. The Champs-Elysées is oozing with luxury apparel and concept car shops. Top stops include Swarovski (left side – 146 Avenue des Champs-Elysées) for a photo in front of their jeweled staircase, Peugeot (left side – 136 Avenue des Champs-Elysées) to gawk at the latest concept cars, and Louis Vuitton (right side - 101 Avenue des Champs-Elysées) to admire their stunning window display. Many Parisians go to the movies on this Avenue, while visitors prefer catching a performance at Lido Cabaret (left side - 116bis Avenue des Champs-Elysées). In the early 17th century, Marie de Médicis, Queen of France, decided to change this muddy terrain into an elm and lime tree planted alley, later embellished by royal gardener André LeNotre. Only in 1765 were the first buildings built alongside the alley, but the area is considered as a bad neighborhood, full of thieves and prostitutes: Philippe LeBon, inventor of lighting gas, was assassinated here in 1804. It is only in 1834, with the help of architect Jacques Hittorff, that the Champs-Elysées becomes a prestigious avenue.

Parisianist Fun Fact: On Bastille Day, July 14th, a parade is held on the Champ-Elysées. It is also the historic finishing line of the Tour de France cycling race.

Grand & Petit Palais

The first roundabout you will reach while walking downhill is the Rond Point des Champs-Elysées, where a luxurious amusement park called le Colisée was created in 1771, but later dismantled. At 1 Rond Point des Champs-Elysées is where Joseph Oller lived, the creator of the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret in Montmartre.

Parisianist Tip: Turn right on Avenue Montaigne to stroll down the street with the most luxurious boutiques in Paris and have a tea at the famous Plaza Athénée.

Continue down the Champs-Elysées until the next big crossing and turn right on Avenue Winston Churchill. On the right is the Grand Palais (price and hours depending on the expo), an immense building with its characteristic glass roof. Built for the Universal Expo in 1900, the Grand Palais hosts some of the most important expositions in Paris. Facing it is the Petit Palais (free, 10AM – 6PM, closed on Monday), a museum of fine arts. Also built at that time, it now houses painting and sculptural masterpieces, such as works of Rembrandt, Monet or Rodin.

Parisianist Tip: Take a break in the Petit Palais’ courtyard coffee shop, one of the best kept secrets in the area.


After returning to the Champs-Elysées and continuing East, you will arrive on Paris’ biggest square: Place de la Concorde. In the 18th century, it was decided to use this land between the Champs-Elysées and the Tuileries Gardens, and build what would become the Place Louis XV, with a large statue of the mounted king in its center. Since 1763, the square has seen numerous glories or tragedies. During the French Revolution in the 1790’s, the king’s statue was destroyed, and the blood soaked square welcomed the terrifying guillotine. King Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette were executed on what became the Place de la Révolution. Only in 1830 did it permanently become known as the Place de la Concorde. The Egyptian obelisk, the oldest monument in Paris, at the center of the square was a gift from the king of Egypt and erected in 1836 after a painstaking 5 years journey. The golden tip was added in 1998.

Parisianist Fun Fact: In 1993, the Act Up Paris association covered the “Obélisque” with a giant condom as a symbol against AIDS.


Cross straight across the Place de la Concorde and enter the Jardin des Tuileries. In the 15th century, what was once a tile factory area becomes the new Royal Residence and Royal Gardens: Le Palais des Tuileries. In 1665, André LeNotre arranged the gardens which have kept their style until today, but the Royal Palace was destroyed in 1871 and never reconstructed. Today during the summer, there is an amusement park on the northern side of the park. Proceed east towards the exit of the park, always in the alignment with the Champs-Elysées.

Parisianist Fun Fact: In 1783, the first manned flight in a hydrogen balloon happened in the Tuileries Gardens.

Arc du Carrousel

Between the Louvre and the eastern gate of the Jardin des Tuileries lays the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, built between 1806 and 1808 to commemorate Napoleon’s military victories. This became the new entry point to the Tuileries Palace, where Napoleon also resided.

Parisianist Fun Fact: the famous horses of Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Venice (seized by Napoleon in 1798) used to sit on top of this arch, before being returned again in 1815. It was replaced by a sculpture depicting “peace” riding a triumphal chariot, commemorating the restoration of a kingdom after Napoleon’s downfall.


While gazing at the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, you are already surrounded by the Palais du Louvre (Louvre Palace). With its 135,000 m², it is Europe’s second largest building after the Rumanian Parliament building and is now home to the largest and most visited museum in the world. The first tower of the Louvre was built in the 1202 as a watch tower of the city wall of Paris under King Philippe August’s reign. During the centuries, kings and emperors added parts to the building, and only at the end of the 19th century did it get its modern aspect. Parts of the old medieval castle can be visited via the museum. The most famous works of art displayed in the Louvre are the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.

Parisianist Tip: It is simply impossible to visit the whole museum in one day. Select the themes that you are most attracted to, and to avoid long queues, buy your ticket in advance on the internet.


The modern Louvre Pyramid (in the center of the Cour Napoléon) is also part of the magic of the Louvre, but it was not always the case. Strong opposition was expressed when the project to build a modern pyramid in front of the old Louvre was accepted in 1989. Chinese architect Leoh Ming Pei’s glass pyramid now stands where a large statue of Louis XIV used to be (the statue is still located in the Cour Napoléon, just not in the center). The pyramid is also the main entry point to the Louvre.

Parisianist Tip: Although this entry point is probably the most impressive, another entry point, less crowded is located on the south side next to the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, called the Porte des Lions.

Cour Carrée

Continue walking towards the east, always in the same direction. After the walkway under the eastern wing of the Louvre, you will find yourself in the Cour Carrée. Historically, this is where the medieval castle used to be, and the first watch tower was on the bottom right corner (southwest). The buildings that now surround the courtyard were built between the 16th and the 17th century.

Parisianist Tip: The Cour Carrée is most beautiful at night.

Saint Germain l'Auxerrois

Take the eastern exit of the Cour Carrée to exit the Louvre building. After crossing the old moats of the Palace and Rue de l’Amiral de Coligny, turn around to have a look at the eastern wing of the Louvre. Built in the 17th century by architect Claude Perrault, the specificity lies in the columns, which have inspired other buildings, such as the Grand Palais seen earlier. Enter the church in front of the Louvre: Saint Germain l’Auxerrois. Construction of this church started in the 12th century and because of its proximity with the Royal Palace (Louvre), it was the church of the Kings in the 14th century. The belfry was added in the 19th century. The church has also sadly related to the massacre of the Protestants on August 23rd 1572, as it was from this tower that the bell rang to signal the beginning of the massacre. On a happier note, this is where playwright Molière got married in 1662. When exiting the church, turn right on Rue de l’Amiral de Coligny: the subway station “Louvre Rivoli” (Line 1) is 50 meters away.

Parisianist Fun Fact: Take a look at the churches façade when exiting the Louvre building. You will surely notice that a replica of the church was built on the opposite side of the belfroy. Built in 1857 by architect Hittroff (Champs-Elysées / Concorde), it now houses the city hall of the 1st arrondissement.

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