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Are you planning a trip to Paris? Aside from the iconic Parisian beauties like the Eiffel Tower, Sainte-Chapelle, and the Palace of Versailles, you should consider visiting the Arc de Triomphe to delve into France’s rich history. This monument takes you on a journey to uncover historical anecdotes of soldiers who sacrificed their lives in wars. In this blog, our aim is to provide you with a deeper understanding of the Arc de Triomphe’s purpose and symbolism. After reading the comprehensive information about the monument, you will be ready to take the tour and witness this timeless landmark.
Where is the Arc de Triomphe located?
The Arc de Triomphe at the Place de l’Etoile is one of the most distinguished monuments in Paris. Situated at the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle (formerly known as the Place de l’Étoile), it is in close proximity to the Champs-Élysées. This monument was built in honor of the troops who fought and died for France during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. It bears the names of all French victories and generals, beautifully carved on both its inner and outer surfaces.
Designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1806 on the orders of Napoleon, the monument was inaugurated in 1836 to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the “Three Glorious Days.” The Arc de Triomphe stands 50 meters high, spans 45 meters in width, and reaches a depth of 22 meters. Prior to the construction of the arch in Pyongyang in 1982, it held the distinction of being the largest triumphal arch in the world. Its design was inspired by the Titus Arch in Rome, and it forms part of a triumphal arch architectural style, featuring multiple passageways designed to span the road.
Unveiling the History behind the Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe has been an integral part of France’s rich history and heritage for a long time. As one of the most popular and visited monuments in Europe, it proudly stands on the right bank of the River Seine. It serves as the central feature of the Axe Historique, a renowned sequence of monuments. Initially commissioned by Napoleon I, the completion of its construction and dedication to the armies of the revolution and the Empire were overseen by Louis-Philippe. For over a century, it claimed the title of the world’s tallest arch, gracing the Parisian skies.
In 1921, the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers” was placed beneath the arch, following World War I, taking inspiration from an anonymous warrior’s tomb in Westminster Abbey, United Kingdom. Since then, the Eternal Flame has been rekindled daily at 6:30 PM, a tradition upheld for over a century. This iconic monument has witnessed various historical events, including World Wars, revolutions, urbanization, and peace. It has seen German troops leading victory marches, French troops marching off to war, and the conclusion of World War II when the French army and its allies passed by the monument. The arch still stands proudly on the streets, recounting the glorious history of how the French army fought and sacrificed lives for the nation’s pride.
Replicas Inspired by the Arc de Triomphe
Numerous structures around the world bear a striking resemblance to the Arc de Triomphe. Architectural designs inspired by it include:
- Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang, North Korea
- Arcul de Triumf in Bucharest, Romania
- Rosedale World War I Memorial Arch in Kansas City, Kansas, US
- A miniature version at the Paris Casino in Las Vegas, US
Hotels near the Arc de Triomphe
When planning your trip to Paris, the Arc de Triomphe should be at the top of your “must-visit” list. Staying near this monument provides you with an advantage, allowing you to bypass the large crowds during peak times. Additionally, these hotels offer magnificent views of the Arc de Triomphe. Here are a few of them:
- Hôtel Keppler: This hotel ranks high on the list of the best hotels near the Arc de Triomphe, located just steps away from the monument. Hôtel Keppler features a winter garden, and guests can enjoy an American buffet breakfast every morning. Furthermore, afternoon tea is available in the lounge.
- Hotel the Peninsula Paris: Inspired by both Chinese and Western opera decor, Hotel the Peninsula Paris is a fifteen-minute drive from Paris Airport. Its rooms are adorned with elegant furniture, providing separate areas for luggage and wardrobe.
- Bulgari Hotel Paris: As one of the renowned hotels near the Arc de Triomphe, Bulgari Hotel Paris is the latest gem in the Golden Triangle of the City of Lights. It offers a restaurant, swimming pool, private bar, air-conditioned rooms with wardrobes, and more. This could become your favorite hotel during your trip to Paris.
- Monsieur George Hotel & Spa – Champs-Élysées: This hotel offers a fitness center, coffee machine, mini-bar, closets, and free WiFi. The Arc de Triomphe is just a few steps away from the hotel, and it provides complimentary breakfast to all guests, along with transportation services to the airport.
- Hotel Armoni Paris: Located seventeen minutes away from the Arc de Triomphe, Hotel Armoni Paris offers various amenities to cater to guests’ needs. It provides free WiFi access, and public parking is available nearby at an additional cost. Guests can choose from a range of food options, including vegetarian, non-vegetarian, and gluten-free.
Best Time to Visit the Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe, one of the major symbols of Parisian beauty, is a popular destination for your next trip to Paris. The City of Lights welcomes millions of tourists from across the globe every year. Therefore, before planning your trip to visit this monument, it’s essential to know the best time to avoid the crowds and fully enjoy this iconic landmark.
Winter is the ideal season to visit the Arc de Triomphe, especially from November to March. During these months, there are fewer tourists compared to other seasons. This period allows for a hassle-free visit, where you can take your time studying the history behind the arch. An evening tour is particularly soothing, as you can behold the shimmering lights of the Champs-Élysées and the eternal flame of the unknown soldier.
- Symbolic Location: The Arc de Triomphe is one of Paris’s most famous monuments, situated at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. Serving as a focal point, it marks the center of Paris’s historical axis.
- Historical Significance: In 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte initiated the construction of this monument following his victory at Austerlitz. The intention was to honor the French army and commemorate their military achievements.
- Architectural Design: Jean Chalgrin designed the monument, drawing inspiration from the Arch of Titus in Rome. It stands 50 meters (164 feet) tall, spans 45 meters (148 feet) in width, and reaches a depth of 22 meters (72 feet).
- Intricate Sculptures: Adorned with intricate sculptures, the Arc de Triomphe depicts various scenes from French military history. One of the most famous scenes carved on it is “La Marseillaise,” a high-relief sculpture symbolizing Liberty leading the people.
- Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: The base of the Arc de Triomphe houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, containing the remains of an unidentified soldier who perished during World War I. This tomb stands as a symbol of remembrance for all the unidentified soldiers who gave their lives in France’s conflicts, upholding the nation’s pride.
- Eternal Flame: An eternal flame serves as a tribute to every soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice. It has been rekindled daily at 6:30 PM since 1923.
- Iconic Traffic Circle: The monument is located at the heart of a large roundabout known as the Place Charles de Gaulle. This roundabout is one of the busiest traffic intersections in Paris and is often referred to as the “Étoile” or “Star” due to its star-like layout.
- Spectacular Views: To enjoy panoramic views of Paris, a visit to the top of the Arc de Triomphe is a must. The viewing platform offers breathtaking vistas of the Champs-Élysées, the Eiffel Tower, and other notable landmarks.
- Annual Celebrations: The monument plays a central role in national celebrations in France. It is a traditional site for national parades, including the Bastille Day military parade held on July 14th each year. Consequently, many international travelers visit it annually to witness these parades.
- Restoration and Maintenance: Over the years, the Arc de Triomphe has undergone several restoration efforts to preserve its beauty and historical significance. The monument is meticulously maintained by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux and continues to serve as an iconic symbol of France’s rich history.
The Arc de Triomphe stands as an iconic symbol of France, a place where the coffins of various French dignitaries, including Victor Hugo and Ferdinand Foch, have lain in state before their final resting place. Additionally, it has witnessed triumph parades from both opposing forces, such as Germany in 1871 and 1940, as well as parades celebrating France and its allies in the years 1918, 1944 during the liberation of Paris in World War II, and 1945 following the conclusion of the European War. This monument remains an enduring testament to the valor and sacrifices made in the name of France, firmly rooted in the country’s historical fabric.