Arch of Triumph – Paris

Arch of Triumph i.e. known by the name Arc de Triomphe is among the most famous and most Visited monument of Paris which is located in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle (Place De I’ Etoile) at the western end of Champs Elysees. This 50 ft. standing arch gives honour to those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars. This arch was built on the order of Napoleon in memory of his victories in the battle field .The outer and inner side of the arch is engraved with the name of generals who fought for France under Napoleon.

Architecture, Construction and Patriotism

This is 50 meters which is approx. (164 ft.) high monument, and is 45 meter (148 ft.) wide and also 22 m (72 ft.) deep. The monument contains two vaults in it, among which larger one has dimension of 29.19 m (95.8 ft.) high and 14.62 m (48 ft.) wide, while the smaller one stands 18.68 m (61.3 ft.) high and has a width of 8.44 m (27.7 ft.).You can imagine the huge size of the monument by the event in which Charles Goudfrey flew his Nieuport biplane through it on 1919, three weeks after the Paris Victory Parade. Firstly pilot Jean Navarre was tasked for this flight, but he died while training for the flight in a crash near Villa Coublay on July 10, 1919.

The arch was commissioned in 1806 by Emperor Napoleon when he was at the peak of his fortune just after the victory at Austeritz. It took two years in only laying the foundation of the monument. When Napoleon entered Paris from the west in 1810 with his Austrian bride Archduchess Marie Louis, he had a wooden mock up of the completed arch construction. It took 30 years for the arch to get completed and was given final touch in the year 1836,followed by the inauguration on 29 July 1836. The work of designing the monument was given to the French architect Jean Chalgrin who designed it in the year 1806.According to the people the design of this arch was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus, which is the first century honorific arch built by the Roman Emperor Domitia shortly after the death of his elder brother Titus. After the death of the architect Jean Chalgrin in 1811 the work was taken over by Jean Nicolas Huyot. When remains of Napoleon were brought back to France from Saint Helena, it passed under the Arc de Triomphe when were taken to the final place of resting i.e. Invalides in Paris. In the inner side of the arch at the top are 30 shields engraved with the name of major French victories. The inner side of the wall is engraved with 660 names among which 558 were French Generals of the first French Empire. French victories in the Napoleonic wars were also engraved on the shorter sides of four supporting columns. For four years from 1882 to 1886 the arch was topped by title “Le Ttiomphe de la Revolution” by Alexandre Falguiere which meant “The Triumph of the Revolution”.

Due to coal soot and automobile exhaust the monument had grown very much blackened in early 1960’s which was then cleaned by bleaching in 1965-1966

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier lies beneath the Arch. The body buried there is unidentified who died for his fatherland in World War I. The first eternal flame was lit in Western and Eastern Europe since the Vestal Virgins’ fire extinguished in the fourth century on Armistice Day 1920.The eternal flame burns in memory of those soldiers who were never identified ‘ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANCAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914-1918’ is written on the slab placed at the top of the tomb which means ‘HERE LIES A FRENCH SOLDIER WHO DIED FOR THE FATHER LAND 1914-1918’. Every 11 November on the anniversary of the armistice signed by the Entente Powers and Germany in 1918, a ceremony is held at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.


Things to see in the Arch

There is apermanent exhibition inside the monument conceived by the artist Maurice Benayoun & the architect Christophe Girant opened in Feb 2007.This museum contains large models of the Arch which tells the tale of it from the time of its construction. A lift takes the visitor to the museum. Only 46 more steps from this point take the visitor to the top of the arch i.e. its terrasse. From there you can take the vision of whole Paris which is eye blessing

Parades around Arch

After its construction the arch became the major rallying point, where French troops used to parade after successful military campaign and also for the annual Bastille Day Military parade. Few famous victory marches around or under the arch included:

  • The Germans, 1871
  • The French, 1919
  • The Germans, 1940
  • The French and the Allies, 1944 &1945
  • The U.S victorious troops marched & the airplanes fly overhead on 29 Aug 1944.

The United States postage stamps of 1945 had the Arc de Triomphe in the background because of that march in 1944.

But after the interment of the Unknown Soldier beneath the arch, all military parades have avoided marching through the arch.

Location of the Arch

The arch is located in the 16th arrondissement on Paris’s Right Bank in the Northwest sector of the city.

Access to the Arch

Metro: Lines 1,2 and 6 station Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile

RER: Line A, station Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile

Bus: Lines 22, 30, 31, 52, 73, 92 and Balabus

From outside Paris: Take exit from Port maillot and avenue de la Grande Armee or exit Porte

Dauphine and avenue Foch.

From the centre of Paris: Drive up the Champ Elysees

Time to visit

From April 1 to September 30   :   10 am to 11 pm

From Oct 1 to March 31               :    10 am to 10:30 pm

Close on:  Jan 1, May 1, May 8(morning), July 14(morning), November 11(morning), December 25.

One of the best days to visit there is July 14th, Bastille Day. The Bastille Day Parade follows the length of the Champs Elysees and a huge flag billowing from the Arch’s crown.

Entry fee

Adult: 8 euro; Indian rupee: 601.51 Rs

Student (18 to age upto 25): 5 euro; Indian rupee: 375.94 Rs

Free for Children and Students upto 17 years old.


Important facts about the Arch

Name -Arc de Triomphe

Type –Triumphal Arch

Architectural Style – Neoclassicism

Location – Place Charles de Gaulle

Construction Started – 15 Aug 1806

Inaugrated – 19 July 1836

Height – 50m (164 ft.)

Wide – 45m (148 ft.)

Deep – 22m(72 ft.)

Architect – Jean Chalgrin, Louis-Etienne, Hericart de Thury