Arc de Triomphe – The French war memorial

Arch de Triomphe stands steady in the heart of Paris. The monument has the names of every single soldier who died in Napoleon´s wars carved into it. Photo: Benjamin Stäudinger (Source: Flickr, cc-licenced)

Arch de Triomphe stands steady in the heart of Paris. The monument has the names of every single soldier who died in Napoleon´s wars carved into it. Photo: Benjamin Stäudinger (Source: Flickr, cc-licenced)

If you stand on the rooftop of the Grande Arc at La Defense, you can see the longest straight, visible line in Paris. In the middle of the long line you see the Arc de Triomphe, then Obelisk of the Place de Concorde, after it there is the Arc Carouselle at the Park Tuileries and then I.M. Pei’s Pyramide at the entrance of Louvre Museum.

The Arc de Triomphe, the second landmark looking to the city from La Defense, is located at the center of the Place Charles-de-Gaulle, also known as the Place de l’Étoile with 12 avenues joining it´s huge rond point. It is the greatest symbol of French military power and national pride for it.
Napoleon decided to restore the memory of the victories of the Republic and the Empire in this building; the biggest of its kind. His idea was to glorify the army and its leaders.
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On the walls of the arc there are magnificent reliefs, which illustrate war scenes. Under the arc you´ll find the tomb of the unknown soldier. The constant flame of remembrance burns on the tomb. There is a rumor that it is only a symbolic grave – no one should be actually buried there.

The arch’s height is 49,54 m and the width is 44,82 m. It looks awesome from the avenue Champ’s Élysée and the avenue de la Grande Armée. There are jokes about some tourists who see the arc from two other avenues and are wondering; ” Oh, it is so minuscule!” If you catch yourself thinking that, you should probably move on the left- or right hand side of the building to see it´s “big face”.




There is a small museum on the top of the arc. From the terrace you can catch yet another nice view of Paris and the busy traffic on the Place de l’Étoile rond point.

A tip for you: There an underground corridor from the end of Avenue Champ’s Élysée to to the arc – you don´t have to try and cross the busy avenues.

How to get there: Métro and RER; Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile. 12 avenues are leading you to the Arc Triomphe – see the map below!


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