4 Things You Should Know Before Visiting the Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

One of the most impressive monuments in Paris is, without a doubt, the Arc de Triomphe.

It was commissioned by Napoleon I to commemorate the army that participated in the battle of Austerlitz. It is a homage to Napoleon’s Great Army and contributed to the effort of “beautifying” the capital of France led by Baron Georges Haussmann. We will share four things you need to know before discovering the Arc de Triomphe.


1 . It is an arch of very big proportions:

The Arc de Triomphe is located at the end of the Champs-Élysées, in the Star Square, which received its name from the shape of the intersection of the 12 streets that land there; since 1970 it has been called the Charles de Gaulle Square.


It was completed in 1836. With its 164 ft (50 meters) high and 147 ft (47 meters) wide it has become the biggest arch in the world. It has astounding proportions and on its walls are carved the names of the battles and French, war Generals corresponding to the time of Revolution and Empire.

Arc de Triomphe from Champs Élysées. Photo © Descubre París

2 . It’s decorated with beautiful works of art:

On the walls of the pillars of the arch you can find four sculptures, the most famous of them is called Departure of the Volunteers better known as La Marseillaise. It is a homage to the 200.000 men that rose in 1792 to defend The Republic. To appreciate it, turn your back on the Champs-Élysées and you will see it to your right.

To your left will be The Triumph and towards the back will be Resistance and Peace.

On top of these sculptures you will find carvings that commemorate different episodes of the Battle of Austerlitz.

On the center of the ground beneath the arch is located, since November 11, 1920, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It represents the 1.500.000 French men fallen during the First World War, also called The Great War. Above it is the eternal Memory Flame that is lit every day at 6:30 p.m., during a ceremony organized by the association of veteran soldiers.

The Arc de Triomphe up close. Photo © Descubre París

3 . You can stand under it or you can get on top of it:

Even though the arch itself can leave you speechless, don’t just watch it from the end of the Champs-Élysées. You can stand under it if you cross a tunnel available for that purpose. (In all of our Detailed Travel Guides we explain the process.)

You can even climb up to the top of it and get a spectacular view of Paris. That is the reward for the brave souls who want to climb the almost 300 step, spiral staircase that takes you to the top (and pay the 13€ access fee.)

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Arc de Triomphe, Paris. Photo © Descubre París

4 . It will give you a privileged view:

If you make it all the way to the top and stand in front of the Champs-Élysées towards the end of them you will see the Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries Palace, and beyond that the Louvre.


On your right hand side you will see the Eiffel Tower and on your left, Montmartre with the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur, and further back, aligned with the Arc de Triomphe you will see the Grande Arche which frames the modern business center of Paris.


We suggest going up right before sunset to see the change of light and witness the lights of the “City of Lights” being turned on, it is also a great place to see the Eiffel Tower lit up.

View from the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe. Photo © Descubre París

Practical information:

  • To get to the arch you can walk, go up the Avenue of Champs-Élysées or get there directly by metro using lines 1, 2, 6 or the RER A.
  • It is open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Between April and September it remains open until 11:00 p.m.
  • To see the ground floor you don’t need to pay.
  • If you want to go up it costs 13€ per person, there are no elevators or escalators. (remember, it’s about 300 spiral steps).
  • It is open every day except January 1st, May 1st and 8th, July 14th, November 11th and December 25th.
  • For more information do not hesitate to visit the official website of the Arc de Triomphe.


The monument reopened to the public on June 15, 2020, after an almost three month closure. Here are some of the conditions to take into account while visiting post COVID-19:

  • Online ticket reservation is mandatory. Tickets will not be sold at the entrance.
  • Visitors are limited to 20 every 10 minutes.
  • Tours have been updated.
  • The use of masks is mandatory.
  • Anti-bacterial gel can be found at the entrance for your use.
  • Please follow the safety guidelines shown at the start of your visit and don’t forget to follow all social distancing protocols.
  • Group visits are cancelled at the moment.
Access to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Photo © Descubre París


The Arc de Triomphe can be found in all of our guides, even the Detailed One Day Guide, so you shouldn’t miss it unless there is some extraordinary, unforeseen circumstance (manifestations or other situations that could prevent access to the monument.)

Paris awaits.

Á bientôt!

The Grande Arche from the Arc de Triomphe Photo © Descubre París
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