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While the vista from 164 feet (50 meters) above Paris will lure you to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, there’s much to see at the base of this landmark. It stands in the Place Charles de Gaulle where 12 straight avenues, including the Champs-Élysées, intersect and form “the star” of the city.
Although this is a busy intersection at the center of the city, you can easily reach the monument via car or sidewalk via the picturesque Champs-Élysées. There’s also enough pedestrian-only space around the arch to admire its architecture and decorative artwork from a safe distance.
There is an admission fee to reach the top of the arch via 284 steps or the elevator. Once there, you’ll find a museum, gift shop and views down the Champs-Élysées. The surrounding streets are particularly beautiful in the early evening when the city’s lights begin to sparkle.
It’s free to explore the base of the arch. Four massive pillars beneath an attic form a vaulted passageway so wide a pilot flew his plane through it in 1919. In 1920, the body of an unknown soldier was buried here and an eternal flame was added in 1923, in remembrance of those who died in World War I. The flame is rekindled in a daily ritual at 6:30 p.m.
The arch is a memorial to all those who fought for France, but particularly those in the Napoléonic wars. Its inner sides and top are engraved with the details of various wars and the 558 generals who fought in them. Each of its four pillars is decorated with a sculpture in relief. The most famous is Francois Rude’s The Departure of the Volunteers of 1792. It depicts everyday French people ready to defend their country, lead by the allegorical figure of Liberty. This work so encapsulated the patriotic zeal of the nation that it became known as La Marseillaise, after the national anthem.
Napoléon I commissioned the arch after his victory at Austerlitz in 1806. He promised his army they would “return home through arches of triumph”, but died before his grand tribute was completed in 1836.
The Arc de Triomphe is located in the 16th arrondissement on Paris’ Right Bank. It’s open daily, but one of the best days of the year to visit the arch is July 14th, Bastille Day. The Bastille Day parade follows the length of the Champs-Élysées and a huge flag billows from the arch’s crown creating a colorful photo op. This monument is easily accessible via bus, subway, railway or on foot. Driving is a bit trickier, as parking can be difficult to find.
Like to make your stop at Arc de Triomphe even more unique? Don't forget to try a few of these things to do:
For many more activities, take a look at our Paris things to do page.
Adjacent to the Palais de Congrès, this hotel overlooks Paris in a 34-floor circular tower topped by a bar with spectacular panoramic views; the Champs Elysées is less than 3 km away.
Located in 17th Arrondissement, this romantic hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Arc de Triomphe, Lido, and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore. Palais des Congres de Paris and Bois de Boulogne are also within 15 minutes. Paris Charles de Gaulle - Etoile Station is only a 2-minute walk and Charles de Gaulle - Etoile Station is 5 minutes.
Located in Paris City Centre, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Jacquemart-Andre Museum, Musee Nissim de Camondo, and Parc Monceau. Champs-Elysees is 0.6 mi (0.9 km) away. Courcelles Station is 5 minutes by foot and Saint-Philippe du Roule Station is 7 minutes.
This Paris hotel, once home to Proust, is situated in the 16th district, 300 meters from the Buddhist Pantheon and 600 meters from the Museum of Modern Art.
Located in 17th Arrondissement, this romantic hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe. Lido and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore are also within 10 minutes. Paris Charles de Gaulle - Etoile Station and Charles de Gaulle - Etoile Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in 17th Arrondissement, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, Arc de Triomphe, and Champs-Elysees. Lido and Palais des Congres de Paris are also within 15 minutes. Ternes Station is 5 minutes by foot and Argentine Station is 6 minutes.
Located in 16th Arrondissement, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Place du Trocadero and Champs-Elysees. Lido and Arc de Triomphe are also within 1 mi (2 km). Boissiere Station is only a 3-minute walk and Victor Hugo Station is 7 minutes.
Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel is less than a 5-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower and the Seine. The Louvre and Jardin du Luxembourg are both about 15 minutes by subway.