Champs-Elysées: An ode to the world’s most famous avenue

The Champs Elysees, scene of the fatal shooting of a police officer Thursday night, is the beating historic heart of Paris, its elegance and prestige earning it the sobriquet of "the most beautiful avenue in the world".

Champs-Elysées: An ode to the world's most famous avenue
All photos: AFP
The location of Thursday's attack claimed by the Islamic State group just ahead of Sunday's presidential election is all the more shocking as the two-kilometre (1.2-mile) avenue is a magnet for millions of Parisians and tourists alike.
Tens of thousands of people daily throng the tree-lined artery that is home to luxury stores and chain stores, cafes, cinemas and high-end offices. 
Millions of tourists stroll up and down it each year, soaking in the unique atmosphere of the City of Light.
A tourist draw as famed as the Eiffel Tower just across the River Seine, the avenue, stretching from the Arc de Triomphe down to Concorde Square, was first laid out in 1670.
Aristocrats, tourists… killers 
After Napoleon I elected to have the Arc de Triomphe built at the avenue's apex to celebrate his military successes, Baron Haussmann, architect of the transformation of Paris under Napoleon III, effected a stylish revamp.
Today, the boulevard draws in the crowds, from the moneyed aristocrat to the humble visitor. 
New Year's at the Champs-Elysées.
Adolf Hitler chose it for a triumphant stroll on his lightning visit to Nazi-conquered Paris in June 1940.
Over the decades, people have gathered there to mark momentous moments in French history.
Hundreds of thousands congregated along the avenue to celebrate France's 1998 World Cup success on home soil (see below). 
July 14, Bastille Day, sees an annual repeat albeit on a smaller scale as Paris hosts a traditional military parade. The Champs Elysees is additionally the finish line for the world's toughest cycling race, the Tour de France.
The Christmas market held on the avenue attracts millions while hundreds of thousands more gather there to see in the New Year.
The east-to-west axis has witnessed key moments in French history since Louis XIV's city planner Jean-Baptiste Colbert first linked the Louvre to the Tuileries Garden in the mid-17th century.
During the French Revolution in 1789 an angry mob set off from the avenue to march on Versailles, Louis XVI's opulent retreat. Four years later he would be guillotined at the Place de la Revolution, which would be renamed Concorde after the July Revolution of 1830.
It was also the site chosen by General Charles de Gaulle to celebrate the August 25, 1944, liberation of Paris from the Germans (see below). 
Thursday was not the first time violence has been visited on the avenue.
In 1986, it witnessed two attacks — the first, on February 3, seeing one death and eight injured at the Claridge shopping arcade.
A second attack on March 20 at the Point Show arcade killed two and injured 29. Both attacks were linked to Middle East terrorism.
On Bastille Day in 2002, president Jacques Chirac survived an assassination attempt by a rightwing extremist who fired off one shot from a rifle hidden in a guitar case before bystanders wrestled him to the ground.

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Traders say 80 businesses hit in ‘yellow vest’ rampage

Some 80 shops and businesses on the Champs-Elysées avenue in Paris were vandalised this weekend when "yellow vest" protesters went on the rampage, with about 20 looted or torched, retailers said on Sunday.

Traders say 80 businesses hit in 'yellow vest' rampage
The handbag retailer Longchamp was badly vandalised. Photo: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP
Saturday's demonstrations were characterised by a sharp increase in violence after weeks of dwindling turnout, with hooded protesters looting and torching shops along the famed avenue.
It was the 18th consecutive weekend of demonstrations which began in mid-November as a protest against fuel price hikes but have since morphed into a potent anti-government movement.
“There was a wave of violence, we're dealing with the aftermath of the chaos. We're trying to reassure all the employees and then there are those who live here, too,” said Jean-Noel Reinhardt, head of the Committee Champs-Elysées, a local association with 180 members, most of them businesses. 
He said residents and business owners were pushing for talks with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe “to share our exasperation and explain our complaints. 
“The authorities must put an end to this situation,” he insisted. Since the beginning, the prestigious avenue, which is known for its shops, cafes and luxury boutiques, has been the focal point for the demonstrations which have often turned violent, sparking running battles between police and protesters. 
On Saturday, the police appeared overrun as protesters swarmed the area, vandalising and later setting fire to Fouquet's brasserie, a favourite hangout of the rich and famous for the past century — as well as luxury handbag store Longchamp.
Clothing outlets Hugo Boss, Lacoste and Celio were also damaged, as well as a bank, a chocolatier and several newsstands.   
“Enough is enough. And this Saturday went too far!” raged Bernard Stalter, president of CMA France, a national network of chambers of trades and crafts. 
He also demanded a meeting with top ministers “this week in order to find solutions which will put an end to a situation which has become as volatile as it is unacceptable.”