In the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the border of the 8th, 16th and 17th arrondissement
stands one of the greatest arches in history: the Arc de Triomphe (arch
The arch was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate
his victories, but he was ousted before the arch was
completed. In fact, it wasn't completed until 1836 during
the reign of Louis-Philippe. The Arc de Triomphe is
engraved with names of generals who commanded French
troops during Napoleon's regime.
The design of the arch by Jean Chalgrin is based on the Arch of Titus
. The Arc de Triomphe
is much higher (50m versus 15m), but it has exactly
the same proportions.
The triumphal arch is adorned
with many reliefs, most of them commemorating the emperor's
battles. Among them are the battle of Aboukir, Napoleon's
victory over the Turkish and the Battle of Austerliz,
where Napoleon defeated the Austrians.
The best known
relief is the Departure of the Volunteers in 1792, also
known as the Marseillaise. At the top of the arch are
thirty shields, each of them bears the name of one of Napoleon's
Below the arch is the Grave of the Unknown Soldiers, honoring the many who died during the first World War.
The arch is located at the end of the Champs-Elysées
, in the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle, a large circular square from which no less than 12 streets emanate. The streets
are named after French military leaders.
View from Arc de Triomphe
The top of the arch features a viewing platform from where you have great views of La Defense
, the Champs-Elysées
and the Sacré-Coeur
. Make sure you take one of the underpasses to the arch, it is too dangerous to try and cross the street. There is no elevator in the arch, so be prepared to walk up 234 steps.