The Arc de Triomphe is acknowledged as one of the most magnificent arches in existence, and beautiful places in all of Paris France. It sits exquisitely in the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle, an enormous traffic circle from which 12 streets, including the famed Champs-Elysees, radiate.
The Arc de Triomphe has endured as a proud symbol since construction began in 1806 under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte. He commissioned the monument in order to memorialize his many triumphant battles. Within the structure is a museum that recounts the intriguing story of the monument, as well as the specifics of the victorious battles fought during the Napoleonic Wars. On the exterior, above the beautifully molded soldiers, are 30 shields inscribed with names of critical Revolutionary and Napoleonic military successes. The Arc de Triopmhe is also the site for France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where an unidentifiable soldier has been laid to rest. An unceasing flame memorializes the deceased of the World Wars, and is rekindled at 6:30 each night.
The Arc de Triomphe is still the location of national remembrances. Each year on the 8th of May it is the location of the VE Day festivities and on July 14th it is the place to mark Bastille Day. In the past, the Arc de Triomphe has been a place to mourn French state funerals and Germany overtaking Paris in World War II. In contrast however, the monument was also where triumphs prevailed and were celebrated. For instance, the French paraded victoriously below the arch after their emancipation at the end of World War II.
If you have the wherewithal while you are visiting the Arc de Triomphe, you can climb up the over 180 steps to the platform which offers a spectacular view of the sparkling lights along the Avenue des Champs Elysees. Looking east, in the direction of the Louvre, there is the Tuileries Gardens, the de la Concorde, and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. If you look the other way you will see the Arc de Triomphe’s bigger and more recently built counterpart, La Grande Arche de la Défense. Paris’ most illustrious attraction, the Eiffel Tower, is also visible from this breathtaking vantage point. While it is free of charge to explore the exterior, if you’d like to venture inside to see the museum and unbelievable view of Paris, there is a small fee.
The Arc de Triomphe has achieved iconic status and holds a profound place in Parisian history. For these reasons, and because of its supreme beauty, this amazing monument is found on any list of Paris’ best tourist attractions. Arc de Triomphe is therefore a “must see” for anyone visiting Paris!
Photo credit: Alarzy