Paris Champs-Élysées

Five years of Velib'

It was not the first cycle hire system in the world but its success was such that Paris Velib' inspired a wave of similar equipment in some of the major cities in Europe like London or Barcelona. The Parisian experiment for this new, practical, flexible and ecological means of transportation will celebrate its fifth anniversary on July 15 and Velib' has become part of the daily setting of the French capital.
At present, Velib' has 224,000 yearly subscribers for the 20,000 bikes set in the 1,208 spots around town. It is almost the objective the city and promoter JC Decaux had set when they launched the project in 2007. At the time, 7,500 bicycles had been installed in 750 stations. The figures have tripled. In 2012, it is estimated that 110,000 hires are made each day and that some 130 million rides have taken place in five years.
The growth was also enhanced by the installation of Velib’ in the near suburbs and close to railways stations.
It is unlikely though that a Tour de France on a Velib' will be attempted one day. While the bike was designed by French bike maker Lapierre, who equip French team FDJ, and even though the gear system is made by Shimano, a familiar brand for cyclists, the machines weigh 22.5 kilos, almost three times the weight of a Tour de France bike.

Velib’ changed the face of the capital and the life of the Parisians - © Pline
Traditional finish of the Tour de France
37 finishes on the  Champs-Élysées
Population: 2,2 million
Capital of France and the Ile-de-France region
Commune-department and prefecture (75)

Specialties : mushroom.
Motto : Fluctuat nec mergitur.
AKA : the City of light.
Economy : tourism, luxury, fashion, gastronomy, administrations, company headquarters.
Celebrities : too many to be cited !
Festivals : Paris Plage (summer), Rock en Seine, Fête de la Musique (June 21), Printemps du cinema, Salon de l’Agriculture (March), Salon du livre (March), Nuits Blanches (October).

Timeline

  • 52 BC

    Victory of Labienus, a lieutenant of Julius Caesar, on the Senons and Parisii, who have been occupying Lutetia for centuries. The Gauls decided to burn down their town rather than let the Romans in.
  • 100 - 200

    Construction in Lutetia of baths and an 17,00-capacity ampthitheatre (les arènes de Lutèce).
  • Circa 250

    Martyrdom of the first bishop of Lutetia, St Denis, who is beheaded on the Montmartre hill.
  • Circa 300

    Lutetia becomes Paris.
  • 451

    Attila and his Huns besiege Paris. St Genevieve (c. 422-c. 502) organises the city’s defence. Attila gives up his plans to take the town.
  • 486

    Ste Genevieve refused to let Clovis take Paris as long as he will not convert to Christianity. Clovis is baptised in 496.
  • 508

    Clovis makes Paris the capital of his kingdom. In 510, he proclaims the Salian Law which will govern France until the Revolution.
  • 845 - 890

    Norman raids and sieges.
  • 1122

    Paris becomes the capital of the Capetians after taking the upper hand over Orleans.
  • 1200

    Riot between students and troops of the Paris provost leave five dead. King Philp Augustus supports the students and gives the university a major role in the life of the city.
  • 1345

    After 182 years, works are completed on the cathedral Notre Dame of Paris.
  • 1358

    Etienne Marcel, provost of the Paris merchants, confronts the royal power. Parisian autonomy is considered until the city’s bourgeois murder Etienne Marcel.
  • 1370

    The first stone of the Bastille is laid.
  • 1572

    The St Barthelemy massacre leaves 2,000 dead.
  • 1594

    King Henry IV enters Paris.
  • 1634

    First session of the French Academy.
  • 1658

    Biggest known flood of the Seine River – 8.96 metres at the Austerlitz scale.
  • 1708 - 1709

    Freezing winter. Temperature goes down to minus 26. Some 1.4 million French people die from cold or starvation.
  • 1789

    Bastille Day on July 14.
  • 1804

    Napoleon is crowned emperor in Notre-Dame.
  • 1836

    Inauguration of Arc de triomphe.
  • 1837

    Inauguration of the first railroad taking passengers from Paris to St Germain en Laye.
  • 1855

    World Fair.
  • March to May 1871

    Commune of Paris.
  • 1889

    Building of the Eiffel Tower.
  • 1900

    World Fair and Olympic Games.
  • 1924

    Olympic Games.
  • 1937

    World Fair.
  • August 19-25, 1944

    Liberation of Paris.
  • May 10, 1968

    Night of the barricades. Student unrest in the Latin Quarter.
  • 1998

    France wins the football World Cup.
The 1889 World Fair, when the Eiffel Tower was built.
Traditional finish of the Tour de France
37 finishes on the  Champs-Élysées
Population: 2,2 million
Capital of France and the Ile-de-France region
Commune-department and prefecture (75)

Specialties : mushroom.
Motto : Fluctuat nec mergitur.
AKA : the City of light.
Economy : tourism, luxury, fashion, gastronomy, administrations, company headquarters.
Celebrities : too many to be cited !
Festivals : Paris Plage (summer), Rock en Seine, Fête de la Musique (June 21), Printemps du cinema, Salon de l’Agriculture (March), Salon du livre (March), Nuits Blanches (October).

Paris and cycling

One day per year, the most visited city in the world abandons its habits to welcome the Tour’s riders. Its historic centre, where the final circuit of the last stage has been set up since 1975, will in turn travel to 190 countries, by means of television screens. In the last few years, the Champs-Élysées has found its champion: Mark Cavendish, the winner of the green jersey in 2011, finished first there last year. The British sprinter has achieved three of his twenty stage victories in Paris, but is still behind Eddy Merckx’s record of 34. Merckx is aso the record stage winner in Paris with four victories, three time trials in the La Cipale race track in Vincennes, the fourth in a sprint finish. This is another record within reach for the Manx. Merckx’s last victory in the French capital was also the hardest fought as it was gained when his compatriot Patrick Sercu was disqualified after a rough sprint, to say the least. The two Belgians were great friends all the same, teaming up regularly in Six Day races. Sercu gained some consolation with the green jersey in one of the few Tours he entered.

In 1974, Eddy Merckx won his fourth stage victory in Paris, one of the several records the Belgian still holds - © Presse Sports
Traditional finish of the Tour de France
37 finishes on the  Champs-Élysées
Population: 2,2 million
Capital of France and the Ile-de-France region
Commune-department and prefecture (75)

Specialties : mushroom.
Motto : Fluctuat nec mergitur.
AKA : the City of light.
Economy : tourism, luxury, fashion, gastronomy, administrations, company headquarters.
Celebrities : too many to be cited !
Festivals : Paris Plage (summer), Rock en Seine, Fête de la Musique (June 21), Printemps du cinema, Salon de l’Agriculture (March), Salon du livre (March), Nuits Blanches (October).

What to see

Eiffel Tower

Originally known as the 300-metres Tower, it is an iron tower assembled by Gustave Eiffel and his crew for the 1889 World Fair. Located at the very end of the Champ de Mars, it has become the symbol of France and is the world’s most visited paying site with roughly seven million vistors every year.  
Its height went up a little bit thanks to the aerials installed at the top and is now estimated at 324 metres. The Eiffel Tower was the highest building in the world for 40 years. Used in the past for several scientific experiments, it is now a radio and television relay station.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Notre-Dame is one of the most remarkable cathedrals produced by Gothic Art in France and in Europe. When completed near the end of the 14th century, it was the largest cathedral in Wesrern Europe. The church, one of Paris best known sites, is located on the Ile de la Cité, the historical centre of Paris, near the banks of the Seine. Its West façade overlooks the Notre-Dame forecourt, one of Paris largest squares, now named after Pope John-Paul II. The construction, on the site of ancient pagan temples, took more than two centuries to be completed and as a result, the style is not homogeneous. After the troubled times of the Revolution, the cathedral was restored in the middle of the 19th century by controversial architect Viollet-Leduc, who integrated elements of style the cathedral had never originally borne.

Champs-Élysées

The Champs-Elysees are considered as the most beautiful avenue in the orld and by Paisians as the most beautiful avenue in the world. It drew its name from the place in the Greek myrthology where virtuous souls went after death. In 1616, queen Marie de Medici decided to have a large alley lined with trees built on the greens. In 1667, Le Notre prolonged the pespective until the Tuileries. The current pattern up to Place de l’Etoile was completed in 1724. In 1838, architect Jacques Hittorff redesigned the avenue, including its lamp-posts which are still in place today. They were again refurbished during the Second Empire by Jean-Charles Alphand.

The Eiffel Tower - © Julie Anne WorkmanWest façade of Paris Notre-Dame - © SancheznTaken over by the riders one day each year, the Champs-Elysees are also home to marathon runners annually - © Presse Sports
Traditional finish of the Tour de France
37 finishes on the  Champs-Élysées
Population: 2,2 million
Capital of France and the Ile-de-France region
Commune-department and prefecture (75)

Specialties : mushroom.
Motto : Fluctuat nec mergitur.
AKA : the City of light.
Economy : tourism, luxury, fashion, gastronomy, administrations, company headquarters.
Celebrities : too many to be cited !
Festivals : Paris Plage (summer), Rock en Seine, Fête de la Musique (June 21), Printemps du cinema, Salon de l’Agriculture (March), Salon du livre (March), Nuits Blanches (October).

Paris is well worth a mass

King Heny IV was noted for his outspoken character yet historians are unsure whether he actually said the sentence that stayed in history when becoming King of France in 1594: "Paris is well worth a mass".
When he took over from his cousin in 1589, Henry was a king without a kingdom. The vast majority of his subjects were Catholics and could not accept to be ruled not only by a Protestant but by the very leader of the Protestant cause in France. At odds with Charles X and the King of Spain, who claimed the kingdom for his daughter, Henry was forced to take back his crown by force. Helped by some Catholic knights, he won battles in Arques and Ivry, to finally take the best over his enemies of the Catholic League, led by the Duke of Guise. Henry IV besieged Paris for four months, from May to September 1590, leaving 45,000 dead. But the starved city refused to surrender. The royal troops withdreaw and took Chartres, Rouen and Epernay. The only way out for the King was to bow to demands by his family and friends, starting with his favourite, Gabrielle D'Estrees to become a Catholic. He finally accepted to renounce his Protestant faith on July 25 1593 and to receive baptism in the St Denis basilica. On February 25, 1594, he was crowned in the Chartres cathedral. A month later he entered Paris as the new monarch.

Henri IV imposed a five months siege on the Parisians before being crowned king of France.
Traditional finish of the Tour de France
37 finishes on the  Champs-Élysées
Population: 2,2 million
Capital of France and the Ile-de-France region
Commune-department and prefecture (75)

Specialties : mushroom.
Motto : Fluctuat nec mergitur.
AKA : the City of light.
Economy : tourism, luxury, fashion, gastronomy, administrations, company headquarters.
Celebrities : too many to be cited !
Festivals : Paris Plage (summer), Rock en Seine, Fête de la Musique (June 21), Printemps du cinema, Salon de l’Agriculture (March), Salon du livre (March), Nuits Blanches (October).

Jersey wearers after the prologue

Classifications after the prologue

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