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  • Writer's pictureParisian Niche

The Historical Axis of Paris...


We've just recently discovered and posted about the many areas of symmetry around Paris. Today, let's take a P'Niche peek at the truly remarkable Axe Historique, the Historical Axis of Paris...

This axis is stunningly dotted with some of the most beautiful and significant monuments in existence, along what is perceived by many to be the world's most beloved avenue. Its design also inspired "fraternal twin sisters" in cities like: Washington DC, Buenos Aires, Canberra, and New Delhi.


The Axe Historique (often called the Voie Triomphale) is a straight, linear route, spanning a length of 10 kilometers. Many view the start point at La Bastille. Some say it starts at Le Louvre (thus, a total of 7 kilometers.) Some say it ends at La Défense. Others note the extension of the line for more modern viewpoints.

If you are in a hurry, you can hop on the Métro Line 1 to complete the entire journey.

As many of the monuments and landmarks fall between the Hôtel de Ville and Charles de Gaulle Étoile, we suggest a long, (4.5 kilometer) glorious walk through history... Parisian footwear at the ready!

For our journey today, we will start at Le Louvre...

As one does.


If you are awake early enough to catch Paris' spectacular sunrise, you will notice right away that the axis follows the sun's direct path - from rising in the east to setting in the west.

P'Niche suggests nestling in early for some great sunrise pix (and very few people around) right by the Pyramide du Louvre. It's just magical...


Sun's up, fun's up! You may notice many people (Parisians and tourists alike) lining up to take this exact viewpoint, to get as many monuments along the axis in one photo as possible.

On a clear day, you really can capture from the Louvre all the way down to the Grande Arche de la Défense.

As you can clearly see here, there are the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, the Concorde Luxor Obelisk, and the Arc de Triomphe (on the Champs Elysées).

It really is a sight to behold - and capture. But what is the best place to stand to do so? So glad you asked, you inquisitive P'Nicher, you!


Many people think you need to stand in front of the Pyramide du Louvre, but you actually need to plant yourself right in front of this statue of Louis XIV (on horseback).

This statue was commissioned by His Majesty himself to Signore Bernini (let's call him the modern day Michelangelo - well the modern day back then, anyway). There is much more to learn about this fascination, so we hope you will subscribe to join us back in the Parisian Niche...


As we mentioned, the axis follows the sun's path from rise to set and you can see here with clarity.

You can also take note of jusssssst how close the Notre Dame Cathedral was to being on the axis itself. It's ok, we love her anyway - she forges her own path of beauty!


Ok, let's start our walk...

You'll walk westward through the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel though the absolutely gorgeous Tuileries Garden. You should see the Musée d'Orsay and Eiffel Tower to your left peripheral - walking straight towards the Arc de Triomphe (located on the Champs Elysées).


Now, as you exit the Tuileries Garden (pssst, this is an amazing viewpoint for enjoying Parisian sunsets), you will see that you have encountered the Luxor Obelisk on the Place de la Concorde.

This sundial turned executioner's square is the single oldest monument in Paris, gifted to France by the Vice-King of Egypt as a grand gesture/token of friendship.


Would you just look at that view! It just doesn't get any better...

Now, to get to the Champs Elysées itself, you will have to carefully get through the crazy traffic pattern of the square.

I tend to find the "back way" to cross and head to the avenue via a charming and cozy garden.


As you can see here on this map, there is an easy way to walk through this garden to get to the Champs Elysées. American P'Nichers, this is also where your US Embassy is located. The UK's is also just behind it, for our British mates.

P'Niche PSA - do not try to engage with the active soldiers on duty or take photographs. Ask me how I know!


Now, you can definitely see you have reached the Avenue des Champs Elysées.

This glorious thoroughfare is bustling with high-end shops, cafés, etc. We'll of course, explore more, especially as the avenue is set to receive a very "green" makeover.


As you stroll leisurely up the avenue, you will of course have your senses overwhelmed by beauty... and crowds. And with crowds, come some things to note.

You will want to read up on some of the more popular scams that can be found with so many people visiting one street. Just be alert, and all should be quite well.

Just for fun, can you guess a very famous American resident of the Champs Elysées?

Thomas Jefferson lived on the avenue - at #92. You won't learn that in your history books, P'Nicher!


You have now reached the glorious Arc de Triomphe.

Beneath this ornate arch, you will find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This sacred space is a moving and fitting testimony of French patriotism and pride.

The Arc is a very instagrammable location, but please be cognizant of quick moving traffic patterns. Be safe, P'Nicher!


There is one more stop on our journey and that is La Grande Arche de la Défense. Please note, you will have crossed over from the Champs Elysées and the roadway will now be called Avenue Charles de Gaulle.

This area is more of a business and financial district in Paris. I have to admit, I don't often make the trek all the way down to the Grande Arche (shhhh, don't tell.)


What P'Niche personally likes to do is hang a right off the Champs onto Avenue Hoche.

This long thoroughfare will lead you to the Parc Monceau - my top top favorite park in Paris (with lots more info to come).

Also on Avenue Hoche, if you are looking for an English speaking Catholic Church, you are in luck - Saint Joseph is located at 50, avenue Hoche.

When you make it up to the Parc Monceau, you will notice these gorgeous and ornately decorated gates. If you turn around, you will be treated to a simply divine viewpoint of the Arc de Triomphe. It still takes my breath away every time I am lucky enough to see it.

Ah... home sweet home!

Having now "walked" the Historical Axis of Paris, which moment is your favorite? Will you walk the route in its entirety? Sound off in the comments below et à bientôt!


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