Thursday, November 15, 2012

Evening Along Avenue Champs-Élysées | Paris Travel

Evening scene along avenue Champs-Élysées.

Our Silver Paris

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Fernando wanted to stroll down this famous street one last time, and to see l'Arc de Triomphe at night.  Since this was the last night we were going to be out (the next night = early bedtime to catch our wee-morning-hour flight home), we decided to forgo our nightly visit to the Berthillon ice cream stand. and do something special.  Plus, this was my birthday, and this street is pretty romantic at night.  (In my opinion, almost anywhere in Paris is romantic at night.)

We stepped in to stroll through this indoor mall, which was not that much different than an American one--except the architecture and design were much prettier.

We saw Ladurée again, and although the storefront was closed for renovation, there was a temporary shop set up along the sidewalk.  We decided we definitely needed to go in and buy something yummy.  I snapped one picture (didn't turn out), then casually and stealthily aimed my camera up at their chandelier.  A chandelier--in a temporary shop!

One of the sales associates called out, "Please, no photography!"  I was in trouble.  I put the lens cap on my camera.  Once we made our purchase and exited, I staged a shot of the bag which held our goodies.

Macaroons inside!

We continued walking, stopping to take night shots along the way.   Here's a typical evening scene along the avenue.  You may recognize Fouquet's, a famous restaurant on the avenue, from the movie Taken.  Liam Neeson and his French associate have a conversation in front of this spot, almost at the point where I'm standing to take the picture!

From that point on, our focus turned to l'Arc de Triomphe as we got closer and closer.

Yes, I'm standing in the middle of the road!  You can cross the avenue in two stages, since there is a middle "area" (see the traffic light in the center above?) where pedestrians can stop, then cross the rest of the way.  (Or stop and take pictures first!)

I decided to have a little fun with my camera, instead of taking the same picture of the arch from varying distances.  I had read briefly about this technique called zoom effect, and decided to try it.  Slow shutter speed, camera on a tripod.  I set the ISO to 100, and the aperture to f4 to achieve a shutter speed of 1.3 seconds.  My left hand held the lens, and my right hand pressed the shutter release.  As soon as the shutter release was pressed, my left hand twisted the lens from wide angle (17mm) to zoomed in.  The result is streaks of light leading toward the subject, which looks a little blurry but that's just due to the shadow of the image that the camera captured as I turned the lens.

I like the above image best, because I caught the streaks evenly.  I did crop it to where the streaks stopped, so they filled the entire frame.  The below image shows the streaks ending about halfway through the image, with car headlights traveling all the way through the image on the left.  Still, the overall effect is pretty cool with all the colors!

Here's a personal picture below.  See, Fernando got hungry.  There was a McDonald's.  'Nuff said.  This became a half-hour stop, and the slowest McDonald's we've ever encountered (not that I've eaten at one even once in the last ten years!).  At least it was on the Champs-Élysées!

Back to pursuing l'Arc.  We finally made it to the first stoplight in front of the arch--no more obstructions!  We had to wait our turn, since I wasn't the only one with this brilliant plan.

We crossed the avenue to the corner and took another shot.

Back at the center stoplight area, I wanted to turn around and take a picture looking back down the avenue.  And then, it started to rain.  Just a shower, but really--I got temporarily miffed at that half-hour McDonald's delay which was causing rain on my camera.  But, once I got the images downloaded, I realized that the water droplets on the lens added to the overall charm and romance of the avenue and the image.

I couldn't decide which of these two images I like better.  I think the below one, with its colorful and bright lines of car lights, edges out in front.

They're both special enough for me to share with you.  :)

  • Nearest Métro station:  We got off at Avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt (lines 1 and 9) and walked west toward l'Arc de Triomphe.  Line 1 runs along the entire avenue, so you could get off at any point depending on how much you want to walk.
  • Cost:  Free.
  • What to look for:  In the evening, the streets are beautifully lit (of course!), and many stores and shops are open.  We enjoyed visiting car dealer showrooms (Renault and Mercedes Benz, see this post for some cool cars), people watching, a stop at Ladurée for macaroons, indoor mall shopping, and l'Arc de Triomphe, naturally!

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