An instantly recognizable symbol of Paris, the colossal Arc de Triomphe stands at the epicenter of Place Charles de Gaulle, where 12 of the city’s busiest avenues converge. The Napoleon-commissioned monument, adorned with high-relief sculptures depicting sword-wielding soldiers and inscribed with the names of generals and battles, celebrates French military victories and remembers all those who have fought on behalf of France. The top of the arch, accessible via 284 steps, affords superb views over all of Paris.
The Arc de Triomphe is one of Paris’ most visited monuments. Many travelers admire the famous landmark only from ground level, either independently or as part of a sightseeing tour. However, it’s well worth climbing to the arch’s viewing terrace at 164 feet (50 meters) to enjoy sweeping views of the city and its top sights, including Sacré-Coeur, the Eiffel Tower, the Grande Arche de la Defense, and the tree-bordered Champs-Elysees, which leads all the way down to the Louvre.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Use the pedestrian underpasses beneath Place Charles de Gaulle to reach the arch. Do not attempt to cross the roundabout—Paris’ busiest traffic circle—on foot.
- The viewing terrace is not wheelchair accessible. An elevator goes part way up the arch, but visitors must still climb 46 steps to access the top.
- Book skip-the-line tickets in advance to beat the crowds.
- Be sure to bring a camera to capture the Parisian skyline.
How to Get There
The Arc de Triomphe is located on Place Charles de Gaulle at the top of the Champs-Elysees, about a 30-minute walk from Place de la Concorde at the famous avenue’s opposite end. Metro lines 1, 2, and 6, as well as the RER A line, all connect to Charles de Gaulle–Étoile, the nearest station.
When to Get There
Visibility is best during summer, when skies are most likely to be clear. The best views can be had at dusk, when the cream-stone cityscape appears to glow gold under the light of the setting sun. Sunset is, however, also the busiest time. To avoid the crowds, go earlier in the day.
See the Flame Lighting at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Time your Arc de Triomphe visit for 6:30pm to witness the lighting of the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The solemn ceremony takes place at the base of the monument, where an unidentified World War I soldier is buried.