Sure, it’s touristy -- but Paris' Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets in the world. Extending from the Arc du Triomphe to the Louvre, the picturesque route through Paris’ 8th arrondissement is lined with decadent eats, adorable boutiques, and the Instagram-worthy Tuilerie Gardens and Place de la Concorde.
New this year along the 1.2-mile stretch: car-free Sundays. The first Sunday of the month, set out for a slow stroll, Parisian style -- or join the locals and bike down the city's chicest street -- and experience the Champs-Élysées with fresh eyes and a new sense of community.
First, fill your belly with brunch at Le Café Fouquet’s, inside the glam Hotel Le Fouquet’s Barriere on the Western end of the Champs-Élysées. Americans showing their passport get a free glass of Champagne (Bonne idée, non?). Next, get a perfect late-morning shot of one of Paris’ most famed monuments: the Arc de Triomphe, within the Place Charles de Gaulle, as a tribute to those who fought for France during the Napoleonic wars.
A snack and dessert crawl is a little too easy to do on this route. Maison Pradier’s Champs-Élysées location (one of twelve throughout Paris, in business since 1859) is inside a shopping center. Its macarons (around 2 euros each) sit in a rainbow of colors almost too pretty to eat (operative word: almost). Be sure to spring for an éclair -- Maison Pradier’s is ranked among the best in the world. Kusmi Tea is well-liked among tea connoisseurs; stop into its three-year-old Champs-Élysées location, which stays open until 11 p.m. daily and has an upstairs cafe -- perfect for daydreaming or scribbling in your notebook. Here you can try a variety of teas, and pick out which ones to take home -- the pretty signature metal tins make a good souvenir, too. Ladurée is a name as synonymous with Paris as Chanel -- especially if you're talking to gourmands. The shop got its start as a bakery in Paris in 1862, and now has three U.S. locations (in Miami and New York City). But this is the Mothership. In addition to its signature macarons, cakes, and other pretty pastries, the restaurant serves decadent omelets, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and wine.
Try on sleek European fashions -- and maybe walk out with a new wardrobe -- at shops not found in the States, like Marks & Spencer. Or stroll for organic, inexpensive bath-and-body products and cosmetics at Monoprix. Petit Bateau is a French retailer that's been in business since 1893 and sells adorable clothing for newborns, children, and women. Many other luxury labels have boutiques on the Champs-Élysées, including Louis Vuitton.
Finally, wind down the night by catching a French flick at Gaumont Marignan Cinema. The selections are a mix of American new releases (such as Bridget Jones’s Baby) and artsy films and documentaries only released in France.