Want to stroll down the romantic Champs-Élysées on your next European vacation? Hope you like McDonald's, Banana Republic, and Nike, because that's the kind of business you'll find there now, the New York Times reports. Since the 1980s, megastores have been muscling their way onto the historic street that was once known for lovers, glamor, and dramatic military parades by French soldiers and the conquerors of France. But "it’s no longer a Parisian place," says a newspaper editor. "It’s no longer a place for lovers."
A businessman defends the revamped 1.2-mile street, calling it a "shop window of global commerce, a bit like Fifth Avenue in New York." But it's more like Times Square, the Times notes, with 300,000 daily visitors (and half a million on weekend days) wolfing down fast food instead of enjoying relaxed lunches. And the street's cultural life is at risk, with half of its movie theaters gone and nearby independent cinemas in financial jeopardy. "We need to preserve the variety of the avenue," says the owner of an art-house theater. "It’s my duty to get them to come back and forget the image of a street losing its soul." (Read more Paris stories.)