Arc de Triomphe
Located on the Champs Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe is one of the most important french monument and also one of the most visited. Before visiting it, here’s a little preview of what you’re going to discover…
It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Emperor Napoleon at the peak of his fortunes. Laying the foundations alone took two years and, in 1810, when Napoleon entered Paris from the west with his bride Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, he had a wooden mock-up of the completed arch constructed. The architect, Jean Chalgrin, died in 1811 and the work was taken over by Jean-Nicolas Huyot. During the Bourbon Restoration, construction was halted and it would not be completed until the reign of King Louis-Philippe, between 1833 and 1836, by the architects Goust, then Huyot, under the direction of Héricart de Thury. On 15 December 1840, brought back to France from Saint Helena, Napoleon’s remains passed under it on their way to the Emperor’s final resting place at the Invalides. Prior to burial in the Panthéon, the body of Victor Hugo was exposed under the Arc during the night of 22 May 1885. Following its construction, the Arc de Triomphe became the rallying point of French troops parading after successful military campaigns and for the annual Bastille Day Military Parade. Famous victory marches around or under the Arc have included the Germans in 1871, the French in 1919, theGermans in 1940, and the French and Allies in 1944 and 1945. A United States postage stamp of 1945 shows the Arc de Triomphe in the background as victorious American troops march down the Champs-Élysées and U.S. airplanes fly overhead on 29 August 1944.
The Unknown Soldier
Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War. Interred here on Armistice Day 1920, it has the first eternal flame lit in Western and Eastern Europe since the Vestal Virgins’ fire was extinguished in the fourth century. It burns in memory of the dead who were never identified (now in both World Wars). A ceremony is held there every 11 November on the anniversary of the armistice signed between France and Germany in 1918. It was originally decided on 12 November 1919 to bury the unknown soldier’s remains in the Panthéon, but a public letter-writing campaign led to the decision to bury him beneath the Arc de Triomphe. The coffin was put in the chapel on the first floor of the Arc on 10 November 1920, and put in its final resting place on 28 January 1921. The slab on top carries the inscription ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914–1918 (“Here lies a French soldier who died for the fatherland 1914–1918”).
The Arc de Triomphe is accessible by the RER and Métro, with exit at the Charles de Gaulle—Étoile station. Because of heavy traffic on the roundabout of which the Arc is the centre, it is recommended that pedestrians use one of two underpasses located at the Champs Élysées and the Avenue de la Grande Armée. A lift will take visitors almost to the top – to the attic, where there is a small museum which contains large models of the Arc and tells its story from the time of its construction. 46 steps remain to climb in order to reach the top, the terrasse, from where one can enjoy a panoramic view of Paris.
A wonderful experience all to itself. This 4 star hotel is located between Haussmann Blvd and the Champs Elysees. You will find typical french decors and great rooms with an impressive health center offering massages, hammam and a fitness room – From €166/night
www.paris-hotel-rochester.com – 92 rue La Boétie – 75008 PARIS – Tel : +33 (0)1 56 69 69 00
Hotel Elysees Flaubert
Tucked away from the tumultuous Parisian boulevards, the Hotel Elysées Flaubert exudes peace, tranquility and simplicity. Guests appreciate the hotel’s originality and its delightful inner garden. An unexpected patio offers a peaceful, green oasis for some of the hotel’s 41 rooms. From €66/night
www.parishotelflaubert.com – 19 rue Rennequin – 75017 PARIS – Tel : +33 (0)1 46 22 44 35
The Hotel Belfast enjoys an extraordinary location, almost at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe and a few metres from Place Charles-de-Gaulle Etoile and the Champs-Elysées. It will win you over with its 18th century decor which incorporates modern comforts such as air conditioning and internet (free wifi). From €105/night
www.hotelbelfastparis.com – 10 avenue Carnot 75017 Paris France – +33 (0)1 43 80 12 10