Unveiling the Majesty of the Arc de Triomphe: A Symbol of Parisian Grandeur


ParisCultural HeritageCities

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Reading time: 0 minPublished on 10 November 2023

Central to Paris’s Place de l’Etoile roundabout stands the majestic Arc de Triomphe. Initially designed as a monument to Napoleon’s victorious armies, building on the monumental arch began in 1806. Inspired by the great arches found throughout antiquity, the Arc de Triomphe combines both a commemorative space with a symbolic one, and it has always played a major role in the French national republican consciousness.

In 1921 the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was incorporated into the monument, and today the tomb’s flame is rekindled every evening at 6.30 p.m. as a symbol of the enduring nature of the commemoration and respect shown to those who have fallen in the name of France. An annual event is held here to remember the 1918 Armistice of WwI.

As a monument the Arc de Triomphe offers visitors impressive views across Paris from its panoramic terrace, and an exhibition which details the arch’s history and symbolic importance both in France and abroad. Its location at the Place Charles de Gaulle (formerly refered to as the Place d'Étoile for its star-like meeting of several Parisian thoroughfares) places it at the heart of the capital and the western terminus of the Champs-Élysées.

The Arc's architecture

The world's largest triumphal arch, the Arc de Triomphe was inspired by the Roman version build by Constantine, but is twice the size of the original model at 50 meters (164 feet) high and 45 meters (148 feet) wide. Bas-reliefs grace each pillar, including the Depature of Volunteers in 1792 and the Resistance of 1814, among others. The names of hundres of generals and battles also decorate the Arc as a testimony to France's past military glory.

According to the Centre des Monuments Nationaux: "Four sculpted groups adorn the abutments of the Arc de Triomphe. These masterpieces depict The Entry of Napoleon, The Departure of the Volunteers, The Conquest of Alexandria and The Battle of Austerlitz. The most famous of them, The Departure of the Volunteers, also known as La Marseillaise, was created by the Romantic sculptor François Rude in 1792. The others were crafted by two other sculptors, Antoine Etex and Jean-Pierre Cortot.

In 2010, to return the sculpted groups that decorate one of the world's biggest junctions to their former glory, the CMN commissioned the restoration to the Chief Architect of Historical Monuments, Etienne Poncelet."

Take a tour of this Paris landmark

Self-guided tours with the help of a guidebook are available in several languages: French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese and Russian.

Lecture tours are also available in both French and English.

The Permanent ‘Great Moments of French History’ exhibition uses interactive screens to engage with visitors and bring stories to life. It traces the story of the Arc de Triomphe and indeed other examples of triumphal arches throughout the World. It highlights the architectural features of the arch, and explains the friezes and sculptures that adorn the columns.

Out-of-hours visits can be organised for groups of up to 100 people (reservation required).


Metro: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile, lines 1-2-6

RER A: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile


Arc de triomphe

Place Charles de Gaulle 75008 Paris

The visit of the monument for groups or individuals does not require any reservation.

Reservations for lecture tour:

Tel.:+33 (0)1 44 54 19 30

Fax:+33 (0)1 44 54 19 31

Email: visites-conferences@monuments-nationaux.fr

P. Cadet
© P. Cadet


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