• France's news in English

Champs Elysées transformed as rents push out old-timers

AFP · 8 Jan 2013, 09:43

Published: 08 Jan 2013 09:43 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The music and book unit of the company, known in France as a "culture" retailer and which was expected to declare itself insolvent Tuesday, is the latest to leave the Champs as clothing chains, luxury goods shops and automobile showrooms take over.

Cinemas, which once dominated facades, have shrunk to a shadow of their former selves, though a couple of prestigious theatres have survived.

At up to €18,000 ($23,500) per square metre, the tree-lined avenue and its broad sidewalks that extend nearly two kilometres (one mile) from the Arch of Triumph to the Place de la Concorde, was ranked as the third  most expensive retail street in the world by Cushman & Wakefield, after Causeway Bay in Hong Kong and New York's Fifth Avenue.

Among the brands that might move into the space vacated by the Virgin Megastore despite rents that leapt by 30 percent last year, are Apple, US clothing chain Forever 21, Harrod's, or Volkswagen.

"With 30 million tourist visitors per year, the Champs has become a kind of obligatory site for major brands, which logically want a showcase here," said a spokesperson for the Champs Elyseés committee, which groups retailers along the avenue.

Other brands that have set up shop include Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic, Disney, Gap, Guerlain and the chocolate specialist Jeff de Bruges, while jeweller Tiffany is expected to replace one of the many fast-food outlets next year.

"The Champs are in a full transformation," acknowledged Dominique Giraudier, head of the food-oriented Group Flo, which plans to shut down its Bistro Romain restaurant.

Paris town hall concerned

According to Cushman and Wakefield, rents on the avenue have been pushed higher by luxury goods groups and major international brands.

Groups of sightseers are constantly photographing the Louis Vuitton store, where there is often a line of people waiting to be admitted to snap up the French fashion house's monogrammed luxury items.

Barclays, BNP Paribas and HSBC banks stock ATMs so tourists do not run out of pocket money.

"Like the others we are highly sought after" by foreign brands, said Giraudier from Group Flo, and "since rents are soaring ... our business model will not hold out for long against this upscale trend."

A post office that was once a fixture on the avenue is long gone, and music stores like FNAC, which like Virgin is struggling to compete against Internet downloads and electronic goods sales, are likely to follow.

Story continues below…

Around 15 cinemas have shut down in the past 25 years, changing the face of an avenue that nonetheless remains a popular throughfare for singles and couples on weekend nights.

But officials at the Paris town hall are concerned that the Champs image could be affected by a certain "banalisation" due to the massive presence of uniform brands found all around the world.

The Champs Elysées committee contests that view however, and underscores the "diversity of offers – theatre, clothing, leisure and culinary – that continue to define the avenue."

The group no doubt agrees with New York-born French songwriter Joe Dassin who sang in his 1969 hit: "In the sunshine and the rain, at noon or midnight, everything you could want is on the Champs Elysées."

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

How Paris is rapidly becoming Europe's 'City of Innovation'
Photo: AFP

If you want to start a company then Paris is the place to do it, it seems.

France's 'Jungle' children arrive in UK
Authorities will start to clear the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp on Monday. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP file picture

The first group of children from the French "Jungle" migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp's planned demolition.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
jobs available