“At noon or at midnight, there is everything you want on the Champs Elysées.” Joe Dassin’s song about the Paris icon spins through my head every time I find myself walking the world’s most famous avenue. The song is lovely, nostalgic and oh-so-romantic. But what about the avenue itself? There is much debate among Parisophiles, and I understand the logic when some bemoan the commercialization of the street. “It’s turned into a shopping mall of brands you can find anywhere in the world!” they cry. It’s true: the Gap, McDonald’s and Nike are all there in full force, but this also translates into some very exciting contemporary architecture, with enough traditional addresses to make it worth the trip—especially at Christmas, when the holiday lights give the neighborhood a uniquely festive feel and the spiced wine from the Christmas market perfumes the air.