The Arc de Triomphe is recognized around the globe as a major symbol of Parisian pomp and elegance. Emperor Napoleon I ordered its construction in 1806 to commemorate France’s military prowess (and the proud ruler himself), although he would never see its completion. Completed in 1836, under the rule of King Louis Philippe, the arch nevertheless has become forever associated with the proud Emperor’s oversized ego—and with his need to build monuments to match it.
Standing 154 feet tall (50 meters), the Arc de Triomphe can be found at the west end of the Avenue des Champs-Elysées—the city’s most iconic avenue—in Paris’ 8th arrondissement. It’s right at the juncture known as the Etoile (star), where 12 prestigious avenues radiate out in a semi-circular pattern. Owing to its significant place in the French capital’s history—evoking both triumphant and dark historical events—as well as to its iconic status, the Arc de Triomphe has an obvious place on any complete list of Paris’ top tourist attractions.
Things to Do
You can visit the ground level of the arch for free. Its base is decorated with four groups of elaborate allegorical sculptures; the most famous of these is Francois Rude’s “La Marseillaise,” which shows the iconic French woman, “Marianne,” urging the people to battle. Meanwhile, the walls display the names of more than 600 French soldiers who fought in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars; the names of those who perished are underlined.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was inaugurated under the Arch, just two years after the end of WWI for Armistice Day. The eternal flame was lit for the first time on November 11th, 1923, and is rekindled each evening at 6:30 p.m.
To access the top, you can climb 284 steps, or take an elevator to the mid-level and climb 64 stairs to the top. From the observation deck at the top of the arch, breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré Coeur, and the Louvre are in store.
For an in-depth experience, consider signing up for a guided tour; tours meet in the underpass and cost 20 euros.
Tickets & Hours
The Arc de Triomphe is open from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. every day except on Jan. 1, May 1, May 8 (morning), July 14 (morning), July 18, Nov. 11 (morning, and Dec. 25. In the event of an official ceremony, the monument may be totally or partially closed to visitors; check the Arc de Triomphe’s website before planning your visit.
Tickets to climb or take the elevator up the arch can be purchased at ground level or online. General admission is 13 euros; entry is free for children under 18 and French nationals and EU residents between the ages of 18 and 25. The Paris Museum Pass also includes admission to the Arc de Triomphe.
How to Get There
If you’re taking public transportation, you can reach the Arc de Triomphe via lines 1, 2, or 6 on the city’s metro system, or line A on the RER commuter express train. Whichever one you take, you’ll disembark at Charles de Gaulle Etoile.
Take the underpass to access the arch. Never attempt to cross the chaotic and dangerous roundabout from the Champs Elysées!
As of 2018, the Arc de Triomphe is now more accessible to wheelchair users. In addition to accessible restrooms, there is an elevator that takes visitors from the Museum Hall to the observation deck, and ramps for visitors in wheelchairs to access the deck’s different levels.
Unfortunately, the underpass cannot be accessed by wheelchair; the only way to reach the arch is by car or taxi dropoff at the entrance.
Annual Events & Activities
Since the Champs-Elysees is so naturally regal and photogenic, the wide avenue hosts annual events including New Year’s eve parties in Paris and Bastille Day celebrations ( each July 14th). The avenue is also lit with beautiful holiday lights from late November through mid-January
Things to Do Nearby
There are plenty of things to do nearby. Petit Palais is home to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris (Paris Fine Arts Museum), and features collections ranging from the classical world all the way to Paris in 1900. Of course, you’re right on Champs Elysées, which boasts some of the most famous shopping in the city, if not the world. Pick up perfume and makeup at Guerlain, browse handbags at Louis Vuitton, and get lost in Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées.
If you’re feeling hungry, make your way to Fouquet’s, a historic brasserie serving up beef tartare and Simmental beef fillet, or Laudree Bakery and Tearoom for their famous macarons.
Free guide booklets are available for download on Arc de Triomphe’s official website; they are available in 11 languages, including English, Spanish, and Dutch.
Selfie sticks, tripods, roller blades, scooters, motorcycle helmets, and glass bottles are banned.
Luggage up to 40 x 40 x 20 cm in size is allowed; anything larger than that will need to be dropped off at your hotel.
To enhance your experience, download the monument’s visitor app, which will help you plan your visit, identify nearby buildings, and provide more information about the arch itself.