The Symbols of Paris: Arc de Triomphe

Paris is one of the richest cities in Europe, with culture, of course. Even if you don’t like French thinking that they’re too snobby or hate other nations, you still can’t ignore the fact this city exhales culture. Art, architecture, music, film, fashion . . . The list can go on and on.

So it must be really difficult for monuments and their creators to stand out in a city like this. Besides the world-known Parisian symbols like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre (thanks to Dan Brown), there is also another famous monument that must be a priority.

Photo by _DSteiner_

Arc de Triomphe. One of the best arches in the world. Moreover, an icon of the most elegant European capital. At first sight, it looks like the simplest arch, but, in fact, it bears brilliant architecture.

The arch stands on the border of the 8th, 16th and 17th arrondissments. By visiting this site you can mark the point “to be in three places at the same time” in your checklist.

The wonderful arch is located at the end of Champs-Elysées. As you walk up to the arch, you will see the main flow of Parisian tourists. The area is filled with magical atmosphere, if you have a nice Parisian book in a bag, the experience will definitely be very unique.

When you reach the round square at the end of Champs-Elysées, which is called Place Charles de Gaulle (named after an influential French patriot and general, Charles de Gaulle), don’t try to get to the arch right away. It’s actually very dangerous and you might get run over by an innocent French truck. Use the underpasses, they are nice and safe.

Photo by _DSteiner_

The designer of this famous arch is Jean Chalgrin. He was inspired by the Arch of Titus, built in Rome in the 1st century AD. It is very interesting to study and compare the differences of the two monuments. One of them is a remnant of the ancient world, the other one is an exhibit of the modern man’s (well, more or less modern) imagination. After all, there is a bit of truth when people say the history repeats itself.

This monument was built between 1806 and 1836. Although the original plan has undergone some changes, mainly due to political situations, it has preserved the main style and image the creator had in mind.

There are many architectural decorations on it. The arch is practically covered with it. One of the key designs to pay attention to is the collection of shields, 30 in number. The shields are reminders of the battles that were successfully fought by Napoleon.

At the top of the arch there are 30 shields, each of them bears the name of one of Napoleon‘s successful battles. The most significant ones are the battles of Aboukir and Austerlitz fought against the Turkish and Austrian forces, respectively.

The Grave of the Unknown Soldiers

Right below the arch there is the Grave of the Unknown Soldiers. The monument is dedicated to the soldiers who fought in World War I. This vault includes the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, many inscriptions and images on the walls, as well as the Memorial Flame.

Photo by alf.melin

In a word, the arch is a perfect site for patriotism and French nationalism (in the good sense of the word). I know many people think that the French are snobby enough not to respond in any other languages than their own, it turns out they even have a monument of their snobbiness.

The Observation Deck

You got to the arch, and now it would almost be a crime if you took photos around and decided to leave it at that. The arch looks very small in pictures, but in reality it’s very big. Therefore, you can have a great opportunity to look at the city and all the attractions it hides from above.

However, it won’t be as easy as in the case of the Eiffel Tower. There are queues, lots of tourists, and so on. But the tower at least has elevators for those who have a hard time climbing dozens of stairs. Do you want to know how many stairs there are in the Arc de Triomphe? Get ready, please remain seated and take a deep breath. 234 stairs to climb. The digits don’t look complicated at first value, but they together will form one of the longest staircases you have ever climbed.  And I don’t mean to scare you, not at all.

Photo by Mr. 604

I agree, for exhausted tourists, who have walked half the Paris in search for places of interest, this is a nightmare come true. But if you think you can do it, then go for it. Standing at the top of the arch is epic, you can tell about it to your future grandchildren (if you have grandchildren now, then better, much better!)

The cost is not high. In fact, I would expect more from a popular Paris attraction, some museums are even more expensive. The cost for adults is €8, students will get a discount and pay €5. Children and teenagers under the age of 17 get free entrance.

Arc de Triomphe will definitely be an important part of your attractions list. Whatever you do, you will never miss this thrilling piece of art, located in the center of Paris and boasting about the rich culture of the city.

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