The Arc de Triomphe in Paris: A Complete Guide

Brief Overview of the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe, standing majestically at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, is a monumental symbol of Paris. Commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte after his victory at Austerlitz in 1805, it stands as a tribute to the French armies of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The monument is adorned with intricate reliefs depicting victorious battles and engraved with the names of many who fought for France.

Importance in French History

The Arc de Triomphe is more than just a monument; it’s a symbol of French national identity and pride. It represents the resilience and strength of the French nation through times of war and peace. The monument has been a central stage for many historical events, from the funeral procession of Napoleon Bonaparte to the liberation parade after World War II.

History of the Arc de Triomphe

Arc Triumph Guide Paris

Construction and Architectural Design

The construction of the Arc de Triomphe began in 1806 under the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. Designed by Jean Chalgrin, the monument is a masterpiece of the Neoclassical movement, drawing inspiration from the ancient Roman Arch of Titus. The monument stands 50 meters tall, 45 meters wide, and 22 meters deep, making it one of the largest triumphal arches in the world.

Historical Significance of the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe stands as a testament to France’s military history. The monument’s facades are engraved with the names of French victories and generals from the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Beneath the arch lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a tribute to the unidentified dead of World War I, with an eternal flame that is rekindled every evening.

Major Events at the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe has been the backdrop for many significant events in French history. It was here that the ashes of Napoleon Bonaparte were paraded in 1840 on their return from Saint Helena. The monument also played a central role in both World Wars, marking the end of the conflicts with victory parades.

Visiting the Arc de Triomphe

How to Get There

The Arc de Triomphe is centrally located in Paris, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. It’s easily accessible by public transportation. The closest metro station is Charles de Gaulle – Étoile, which is served by Metro lines 1, 2, and 6, as well as the RER A line. If you’re coming from the city center, you can also reach the monument by taking a leisurely walk along the Champs-Élysées, one of the most famous avenues in the world.

Best Time to Visit

The Arc de Triomphe is open to visitors every day, with extended hours during the summer months. The monument can get quite busy, especially during the middle of the day. For a more peaceful experience, consider visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon. If you’re planning to climb to the top, try to time your visit so that you can enjoy the sunset over Paris – the views are truly spectacular.

Accessibility Information

The Arc de Triomphe is committed to being accessible to all visitors. For those with reduced mobility, there is an elevator that provides access to the main level. However, please note that to reach the very top, there are some additional steps that need to be climbed.

Tickets and Tours

Ticket Prices and Where to Buy

Tickets to visit the Arc de Triomphe can be purchased on-site at the ticket office or online through the official website. The ticket includes access to the monument and the viewing platform at the top. There are also various discounts available, including reduced rates for students, young people, and families.

Guided Tours

For a more in-depth understanding of the monument’s history and significance, consider taking a guided tour. These tours, led by me, offer insights into the Arc de Triomphe’s architecture, the stories behind the engraved names, and the monument’s role in French history.

Take a look at my walking tours in Paris.

Combined Tickets with Other Attractions

If you’re planning to visit multiple attractions in Paris, consider purchasing a combined ticket or a Paris Pass, which includes access to the Arc de Triomphe, along with many other monuments and museums in the city.

What to See and Do

Architectural Highlights

The Arc de Triomphe is a marvel of Neoclassical architecture. Take time to admire the monument’s intricate reliefs, which depict victorious battles and scenes from French history. Don’t miss the sculptures at the base of the pillars, including “La Marseillaise” by François Rude, which depicts the French people rallying to defend their country.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Beneath the arch of the monument lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a tribute to the unidentified dead of World War I. The tomb is marked by an eternal flame, which is rekindled every evening in a solemn ceremony. It’s a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made in the name of freedom.

Viewing Deck and Views of Paris

Climb the 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for a panoramic view of Paris. From this vantage point, you can see many of the city’s most famous landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. It’s a view you won’t soon forget.

Nearby Attractions


The Arc de Triomphe stands at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, one of the most famous avenues in the world. Take a stroll down this bustling boulevard, lined with shops, cafes, and theaters. It’s the perfect place for a leisurely walk or a shopping spree.

Other Nearby Monuments and Museums

The Arc de Triomphe is located in close proximity to several other notable Parisian attractions. The Grand Palais, the Petit Palais, and the Palais de la Découverte are all within walking distance. You can also easily reach the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Musée d’Orsay by public transportation.

Hotels and Accommodations

Nearby Hotels

There are numerous hotels located near the Arc de Triomphe, catering to a range of budgets and preferences. Some options include the luxurious Hotel Napoleon, which offers stunning views of the monument, or the Hotel Cecilia, which provides comfortable accommodations at a more moderate price point.

Budget and Luxury Options

For budget-conscious travelers, there are several hostels and budget hotels located a short distance from the Arc de Triomphe. On the other end of the spectrum, luxury seekers can choose from several high-end hotels in the area, including the Peninsula Paris and the Hotel Raphael, both known for their exceptional service and amenities.

Dining and Shopping

Restaurants and Cafes Near the Arc de Triomphe

There are numerous dining options available near the Arc de Triomphe. From traditional French bistros to international cuisine, there’s something to satisfy every palate. For a quick bite or a coffee break, there are also several cafes in the area.

Shopping on the Champs-Élysées

The Champs-Élysées, leading up to the Arc de Triomphe, is one of the most famous shopping streets in the world. Here, you’ll find a mix of high-end designer stores, mainstream retail outlets, and specialty shops. Whether you’re in the market for fashion, cosmetics, or gourmet food, you’re sure to find it on the Champs-Élysées.

Tips for Visitors

What to Bring

When visiting the Arc de Triomphe, it’s a good idea to bring a camera to capture the stunning views from the top. If you’re planning to climb the stairs to the viewing platform, wear comfortable shoes. Also, keep in mind that the weather can change quickly in Paris, so it’s always a good idea to bring a jacket or umbrella.

Rules and Regulations

The Arc de Triomphe is a historical monument, and visitors are asked to respect the site. This means no picnicking on the premises and no climbing on the monument. Also, keep in mind that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a solemn place, and appropriate behavior is expected.

This concludes the comprehensive guide to the Arc de Triomphe. Enjoy your visit to this iconic Parisian landmark!


I’m a History & Art lover and I am very much in love with Paris…I studied Art History at the Louvre School and I became a professional tour guide because I want to share with you my passion and my love for this city. Get my FREE guide on «How to plan your trip to Paris»  now.

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