For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Paris are images of the Eiffel Tower. Although La Tour Eiffel is an amazing iconic structure, there is another Parisian monument that deserves some attention. The Arc de Triomphe.
The Arc de Triomphe may not be as imposing of a view around the City of Light as the Eiffel Tower, but it is grand in its own right. The Triumphal Arch, commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 after the French victory at Austerlitz, stands 164 ft. (50m) high, 148 ft. (45m) wide, and 72 ft. (22m) deep. It was built to honor the men who fought in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Since World War I it houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Arch stands at the end of the Champs Elysées at a juncture of twelve streets called the Place Charles de Gaulle. Every Bastille Day, the Place Charles de Gaulle is the site of a French military parade. Adolf Hitler lead a triumphant parade around the Arc de Triomphe after occupying France as did the American troops after the its liberation.
Visitors to the monument can gain access to the top of the arch to take in sweeping views of Paris, a fact I wasn’t aware of before visiting there myself. For some reason I always imagined it as a solid structure. The admission charge is about ten Euro for adults. Kids are free. Once inside, you’ll need to put in a little work, in the form of climbing almost 300 stairs, to reach the top. The reward is an incredible panoramic view of the city. The Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Coeur Basilica, and the golden dome of Les Invalides are all clearly visible from the observation deck of the Arc de Triomphe.
The Arc de Triomphe is easily accessible via the Metro. The stop, Charles de Gaulle Etoile, is just across the traffic circle from the monument. There’s a tunnel under the street to access the Arch so you don’t have to risk your life crossing traffic, which through my observation seems to have no lanes or rules. While there I commented how I would never want to drive around the circle. Later I got my chance when, in a rental car trying to leave the city, I got lost. But, to stay on topic, I definitely recommend visiting the Arc de Triomphe if you’re traveling to Paris. You won’t be disappointed.