Arc de Triomphe, Paris 

The monument which is symbolic of the French capital: the Arc de Triomphe


Arc de Triomphe ParisA stroll along the famous Avenue des Champs Élysées, in other words, the triumphal route, is a must for all tourists who want to visit the most famous and most typical areas of the capital.  But, it is equally well suited to those who want to combine beautiful architecture with one of the most famous shopping streets in the world.  The Champs Élysées can be described as a very lengthy tree-lined avenue (it stretches for some 7 kilometres) which ideally links the Louvre to la Défense, via the Arc du Carrousel, Place de la Concorde (famous for its Egyptian obelisk), the Arc de Triomphe and the Grande Arche.  An unmissable stop on this spectacular avenue is, without doubt, the famous Arc de Triomphe which was commissioned by Napoléon I in 1806.  Still today, this monument attracts hundreds of tourists daily wanting to visit the museum (which relates the history of the arch) situated inside the edifice and to enjoy the spectacular panoramic views from the terrace at the top of the building.  Majestic and imposing, the Arc de Triomphe and its history have fascinated past generations and will undoubtedly continue to fascinate future generations.

The history behind Napoléon's famous Arch

On the 15th August, 1806, precisely on the date of Emperor Bonaparte's birthday, the first stone of this symbolic monument was laid in commemoration of the triumph of the Battle of Austerlitz which signalled the effective demise of the Third Coalition. The architect Jean Chalgrin designed the monument as a neoclassical version of the triumphal arches of imperial Rome which Napoléon had fallen in love with during his visit to Italy. The majestic work was finally completed in 1836, five years after the death of Napoléon, so, sadly, the Emperor never got to see the finished masterpiece.  Work on the project was heavily delayed due to the revolution and the fall of the emperor and was then picked up again by different architects and worked upon as a new project after his death. In 1920, the Arch was dedicated to the "unknown soldier," and at its foot, underneath one of the stone slabs, the body of a soldier who fell during the First World War was buried as a lasting tribute to all those who lost their lives in the Great War.

Iconography of the Arch

After the death of the Emperor, this iconic project changed significantly and it was ultimately decided to incorporate the glories of the Grande Armée with a tribute to the revolutionary army. Looking at the arch's iconography, it is possible to view the chronological path of French exploits starting with François Rude's Marseillaise which represented the departure of the volunteers in 1792; The Triumph of 1810 created by Jean-Pierre Cortot, The Resistance of 1814 and The Peace of 1815 by Antoine Etex.

How to get there:

The Arc de Triomphe is situated in the Place Charles de Gaulle and in order to get there, you can choose a variety of different means of transport:

  • Metro lines 1, 2 and 6 - the stop is Charles de Gaulle;
  • RER (Line A) - the stop is Charles de Gaulle;
  • Velib;
  • Tourist Bus - the stop is Arc de Triomphe.

Your Visit

In order to make your visit to the Arc de Triomphe really special, we recommend that you opt for one of the guide services: the local guides are very knowledgeable and can make the visit more fun, particularly when they speak your language. On the page ENGLISH GUIDE TO PARÍS, you can choose between the cheaper service, the REGULAR GUIDE, in other words, a guide who will show you the best things to see in the neighbourhood and will tell you some interesting facts about the Arc de Triomphe or, AN OFFICIAL GUIDE, which will be someone who is able to guide visitors in exploring the museum inside the monument where it is also possible to view items that belonged to Napoléon Bonaparte, relics from the First World War and historical documents pertaining to the Arch itself.

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