Tour de France

Get set for the grand finale, 21 July 2013 on the Champs-Elysées

The grand finale of the bike race to rule them all returns to Paris again this year. The chance to watch last leg of the Tour powering up the Champs-Elysées after cycling 2,000 miles in 21 days draws crowds of thousands.

But you don't just have to jostle elbows with the hoi polloi – sign up in advance and pay a €5 registration fee for the chance to don your yellow cycling togs to make a celebratory 6.9km loop along the same route as the pro cyclists, and then be in pole position to cheer them on as they arrive later in the day. All the info here.

If you're inspired to eat out or sightsee around the Champs-Elysées, or to make your own tour of Paris by bike or scooter, check out our guides below. You can also get in the mood with no lycra involved between 27 March and 27 July, when the history of the tour will be illustrated with an exhibition of 80 photos on the railings of the Palais du Luxembourg – all the details here.

Around the Champs-Elysées

Champs-Elysées restaurants

Our recommendations for the best restaurants near the Champs-Elysées Related Shopping on the Champs-Elysées In 1969, hoary French crooner Joe Dassin released 'Les Champs-Elysées', a perfect piece of cheesy French chanson with the lyrics 'in the sunshine, in the rain, in the dark or in the day, all you need's on the Champs-Elysées'. The song captured the role of the avenue at the time as one of the most fashionable and eclectic streets in Paris. But during the '90s the 'Champs' lost its magic, becoming smothered in offices, car showrooms, overpriced eateries, run-of-the-mill shops and fume-pumping traffic jams. Novelty megastores FNAC and Virgin failed to overcome its new déclassé status, leaving the formerly glamorous avenue to the mercy of tourists and businessmen.Since 2011, however, things have been looking up. The congestion, the tourists, the showrooms and the daylight robbery restaurants are all still there, of course. But several mainstream fashion brands – Banana Republic, Levi's, Hugo Boss, Abercrombie & Fitch and even Marks & Spencer's – have chosen to locate exciting new flagship stores on the Champs, luring Parisians back to their long-neglected capital of consumer chic. More than just high street shops, these brands are promising unique shopping experiences: cutting-edge art installations at Levi's, daytime clubbing at Abercrombie & Fitch or free personalised shopping at Banana Republic. So now that the Champs-Elysées are calling fashionable Parisian shoppers

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Arc de Triomphe: An insider's guide

The Arc de Triomphe is the iconic centrepiece of traffic-heavy place de l'Etoile (the meeting point of twelve, elegant, Haussmannian avenues including the Champs Elysées) and a must-see for first-time visitors. But that doesn't mean you have to sightsee like a fresher. The area is both a heaving business and residential district, frequented by well-healed Parisians who love nothing more than avoiding the tourist crowds. Follow in their footsteps with our list of the best places to shop, eat, drink and sightsee around the Arc de Triomphe. Click here for more information on the arch. Around the Arc de Triomphe... Museum: Musée Jacquemart-André Long terrace steps and a pair of stone lions usher visitors into this grand 19th-century mansion, home to a collection of objets d'art and fine paintings. The collection was assembled by Edouard André and his artist wife Nélie Jacquemart, using money inherited from his rich banking family. The mansion was built to order to house their art hoard, which includes Rembrandts, Tiepolo frescoes and various paintings by Italian masters Uccello, Mantegna and Carpaccio.The adjacent tearoom, with its fabulous tottering cakes, is a favourite with the smart, Champs Elysées lunch set. Museum: Musée Cernuschi From the Arc de Triomphe, head down avenue de Wagram to Ternes, then take boulevard de Courcelles to the beautiful, neo-classical Parc Monceau. On it's east side lies one of the city's best kept secrets, the Musée Cernuschi: Since the banker Henri

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Make your own Tour de Paris


In 2007, the mayor launched a municipal bike hire scheme – Vélib. There are now over 20,000 bicycles available 24 hours a day, at nearly 1,500 ‘stations’ across the city. They feel sturdy, have a handy basket for transporting your groceries, and best of all, are available every 300 metres, so even if a stand is empty, you should find a bike at the next one. If you’re not resident in France, you’ll have to overcome the ‘right-hand-side-of-the-road’ issue.Just swipe your travel card to release the bikes from their stands. The mairie actively promotes cycling in the city and the Vélib scheme is complemented by the 400km (250 miles) of bike lanes...

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If you can't be bothered to cycle

Paris by scooter

Versailles on a Vespa? Saint-Germain by scooter? Paris's two-wheeled travellers are a zippy lot, and if you've got the stomach for their daredevil driving habits then you'll quickly see the attraction: quick, cool, mobile and above all out in the fresh air, scooter travel beats the smelly old Métro by a very large margin.And it's easy enough to stop staring longingly at the chrome-trimmed fleets of bikers zooming around Paris with élan, and join their ranks. Anyone with a driving licence can rent a 50cc scooter in Paris (and if you're over 25, you don't even need one of those) – for 125cc and over you will need a current motorcycle and be over 20 years old...

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