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All You Need to Know About the History of the Arc de Triomphe


Introduction to the Monument

Standing 49.54 m (162.53 feet) high, 44.82 m (147.05 feet) wide and 22.21 m (72.87 feet) deep, the Arc de Triomphe certainly doesn't go unnoticed. Located in the middle of the Place de l'Etoile, in the capital’s 8th arrondissement, it is encircled by an enormous roundabout leading into Avenue Kléber, Avenue de la Grande-Armée, Avenue de Wagram and Avenue des Champs-Elysées. 

This Parisian monument is decorated with late 18th-century and early 19th century haut-reliefs and sculptures. The names of battles and generals from wars that were fought during the French Revolution and under the Empire are inscribed on the walls of the arches. At the base of the arch lies the tomb of the unknown soldier, a symbol of the First World War.

 

The History of the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe was built by order of Napoleon I who, after the battle of Austerlitz, decreed that his soldiers should be honoured on their return to France. "You will only return to your homes through triumphal arches," he declared. He commissioned Parisian architect Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin, who carried out the work between 1806 and 1836. It was inaugurated on 29 July that year. 

In 1896, the Arc de Triomphe became a listed historic monument. In 1921, it became home to the tomb of the unknown soldier and, two years later, the eternal flame that has been rekindled every day at 6.30 pm ever since, including in 1940 during the occupation.

To mark and celebrate the taking of the Bastille, the traditional military parade on 14 July, Bastille Day, also passes under the Arc de Triomphe. If there is one event worth attending in the capital, it's definitely Bastille Day! Featuring the parade, firework displays and other entertainment, it's a fabulous day for kids and grown-ups alike.

 

Anecdotes

In 1919, the pilot Charles Godefroy accomplished the feat of flying his plane under the Arc de Triomphe.

The body of Victor Hugo was laid under the arch for an all-night vigil before his burial.

 

Preparing for Your Visit:

How to get there?

The Arc de Triomphe is easily accessible by Metro to the Charles de Gaulle – Etoile station served by lines 1, 2 and 6 and the RER A. It's also not far from the Tootbus no. 7 stop, Champs-Elysées - Georges V.

 

Prices and Online Booking

Entry is €13 and admission is free for under-18s, persons with a disability and the person accompanying them, and jobseekers upon presentation of proof.

A Skip the Line ticket will save you time and is valid on the date and time of your choice. To save time at the ticket office as well, choose your timeslot and download your tickets online!

 

How to Visit the Arc de Triomphe

The visit is self-guided and documentation is available in numerous foreign languages. The Arc de Triomphe is open from 10 am to 6.15 pm. 

The visit includes access to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, which offers some of the most beautiful views in Paris. There are 284 steps to climb to reach the top and a further 46 steps to the panoramic terrace. But don't panic! If you're feeling lazy, you can take the lift.