It is not until you see the
Arc de Triomphe 'in the flesh' so to speak, that you realise its significance to both Paris and the French people - it's massive -
50 metres tall and 45 meters across and represents a great pride
in their military history.
It was commissioned by
Napoléon Bonaparte in 1806 while he was still basking in his victory at the battle of Austerlitz and at the time dedicated to his Imperial army. Its scale was important to show the world and the people of France that his and their victories had been monumental. The style was adapted from another great empire, the Roman Empire and its similarities to arches such as the 'Arch of Titus' in Rome are obvious.
Sadly the Emperor himself did not get to see its completion as he died halfway through its construction.
Today it is dedicated to glory of the French army and honours important battles, generals and victories in France’s military history. It also contains the tomb of the 'Unknown Soldier'.
To the outside world however it has become, like the Eiffel Tower, an iconic symbol of Paris
If you want a spectacular view of the city of Paris, go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe as it's location at the highest point of the Champs-Elysees makes it the ideal place.
The climb to the top via the spiral staircase (284 steps) is not for the faint-hearted...
...but it is worth it.
The arch is at the centre of a a 10 road intersection (see video below), so to cross over to the arch its best to cross
via the underground walkway with accesses located at Avenue Grande Armee
and at the top of the
don't try and cross the lanes of traffic to reach the arch - use the underground walkways. Plus if you are looking for some respite stroll along Avenue Hoche to the delightful Parc Monceau.