We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Arc de Triomphe (http://www.arcdetriompheparis.com/ & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arc_de_Triomphe). After the Eiffel Tower, it is probably the most impressive monument in Paris. It stands in the center of the place Charles de Gaulle, also known by its former name - the place de l’Etoile (place of the Star). Twelve straight avenues, one of which is the Champs Elysées, radiate out from the place.
This massive monument honors the French military who fought and died during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. Its design was inspired by the Arch of Titus which was built near the Roman Forum by the Roman Emperor Domitian in the 1st Century A.D. to honor the military victories of his brother Titus. Napoleon I ordered the Arc’s construction in 1806, but it was not completed until 1836.
The Arc de Triomphe is so large that a pilot flew his biplane through the arch in 1919, shortly after the victory parade to celebrate the end of World War I.
Beneath the Arc is the tomb of the French Unknown Soldier from World War I.
The Arc has an Eternal Flame, which is relit in a ceremony every evening in 6 p.m. at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is this flame that was the inspiration for the Eternal Flame at the grave of President John F. Kennedy. The President and his wife had visited the Arc de Triomphe 2 years before his assassination. She remembered the flame when he was buried, and she requested one for him.
Visitors can go to the very top to see terrific views of Paris. In some ways, the views were as good as those from the Eiffel Tower.
(Some pictures below were taken from the Arc using the 12x optical zoom on my camera.)
Champs Elysées (without zoom)
Montmartre (with zoom)
Various ceremonies are held at the Arc de Triomphe, including the May 8th celebration of the end of World War II and the November 11th celebration of the Armistice ending World War I.
When my wife and I were in Paris in May of 2000, we saw a large number of policemen along the Champs Elysées. When I asked one of them what was going on, he told me that that day - May 8th - was a holiday celebrating the end of World War II. He said there would soon be a memorial parade by cavalry riding to the Arc de Triomphe and that the President and the Prime Minister of France would both be speaking there shortly, so we walked along the Champs Elysées to the place Charles de Gaulle. We saw the cavalry close up, and the President and the Prime Minister in the distance at the Arc.
There are both stairs and elevators to the top. The elevators are intended for the disabled and those with strollers. However, the elevators were out of service when we were there. We climbed all 284 steps to the top.
There is a museum and gift shop at a level just below the top.
The Paris Museum Pass is accepted there. We were able to go to the head of the line, but I still had to stop at the ticket window to pick up free tickets for my grandchildren.
There is no admission charge to visit the outdoor area at the base of the monument. Admission to the interior is free for children 17 and under, €5 for people 18 to 25, and €8 for people over 25.
The monument is open from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 pm from April 1 to September 20, and until 10:30 p.m. the rest of the year.
There are many types of public transportation that serve the Arc de Triomphe, including subway lines 1, 2, and 6, train line A, and various bus routes. The Metro station is Etoile - Charles de Gaulle. There is a pedestrian underpass that goes under the place Charles de Gaulle to the monument. If you have a death wish, you can try to walk or run through the heavy traffic on the place.