Paris: Champs-Elysees holiday treat

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Courtesy Anne Lazarevitch/Flickr

I'm not normally a big fan of the Champs-Elysées. This avenue is lined with quintessentially Parisian buildings and—frustratingly—international chain stores. What visitors find here looks a lot like what they left at home: a McDonalds, a Sephora, a Nike store, and so on.

At this time of year, however, I make an exception to my grumpy rule. The Champs-Elysées during the holiday season is magic.

Until January 15, the avenue shines with fairy lights. Between the Arc de Triomphe and the place de la Concorde, 400 trees are wrapped in strands containing more than a million lights. Even an anti-Champs Scrooge like me is powerless to resist the twinkling charm.

To complete the experience, vertigo-free visitors should stop at the giant ferris wheel in the place de la Concorde . La Grande Roue Brille (big shiny wheel) provides an unmissable view upon the 2 kilometer avenue, not to mention the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and other nearby monuments. It turns slowly every day from 10:30 a.m. to midnight and costs 10€ ($15) for adults, 5€ ($7.50) for children, and is free for kids younger than three.

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