Avenue des Champs-Élysées
This is a view of the avenue des Champs-Élysées, considered by many to be the most famous avenue in the world. This picture shows the avenue just before midnight on a Saturday, looking northwest from the Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées towards the Arc de Triomphe, which is at the other end of the avenue. The picture was taken from the median of the crosswalk at the midpoint of the avenue, where there is a transition from commercial properties (seen here) to parkland (behind the camera).
The area around the Champs-Élysées was originally marshland and fields, nearly four hundred years ago. The architect Le Nôtre built the predecessor of the current avenue about a hundred years later, and it came to be rather imaginatively called the Elysian Fields (that's what Champs Élysées means in French). Today this real estate is some of the most expensive in the world. Whoever said that swampland is a poor investment?
I took this photograph with cars streaking past in both directions. The median is marked by lines on the pavement and an occasional small post, but that's about it. Since I laugh at danger (well, almost) when obtaining pictures with which to entertain visitors to my Web site, I ignored this and snapped away. In fact, believe it or not, I actually managed to set up a tripod to take this shot (I was shooting at ISO 80, so that was the only way to get a shot that wasn’t completely blurred). Anyway, motorcycles are the biggest hazard here, since they drive on the wrong side of the road most of the time; fortunately, there weren’t too many around during the few minutes I needed to take my pictures.
The odd coloring in the photograph is pretty much the way it actually looks; the street lamps are high-pressure sodium vapor, like most street lamps these days, and so they cast a kind of orange-yellow light on everything. The Arc de Triomphe is lit with the same kind of lights.
There are always people and cars on this street. I took the photograph at 11:37 PM, but the avenue would have looked very much the same at three o'clock in the morning. I also have a photograph of the Champs-Élysées in daylight from this same point (approximately), another daylight picture from the top of the avenue, a picure of one of the broad sidewalks on the avenue, and even a photo taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe (visible at the other end of the avenue in the picture above) if you're interested.
I also have a video tour of the avenue that you can watch, if you want.
Incidentally, if your native language is English, you can approximate the correct pronunciation of the name of this avenue by saying “shahnz-ay-lee-zay.” The actual French pronunciation is /ʃɑ̃zelize/.
Click directly on the photo to see a smaller version (half the above size). Photographed on August 14, 1999. (N 48°52'08" E 002°18'30")