Steven Erlanger reports on America's mass market invasion of the Champs-Élysées, as Banana Republic, Levi's, the Gap, Nike and a host of other pedestrian brands help to transform what was once considered "the most beautiful avenue in the world." For a street that "has long played a central role in France," the fact that "[f]ew Parisians who do not work in the neighborhood go to the Champs-Élysées anymore, regarding it as a place for suburbanites and tourists," represents the culmination of a "long erosion," says Erlanger.
"It's an avenue that doesn't exist in the minds of Parisians, in any case in their everyday lives," said Céline Orjubin, 31, a writer who came to Paris from Brittany. "I don't get an exotic feel out of the Champs-Élysées. It feels more like nowhere, because we find the same things as everywhere."