As one of the most popular monument in Paris, Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, is located in the center of Place Charles de Gaulle. The monument which is known better as only Arc de Triomphe gets “etoile” in is name from the original name of the place where it stands on, Place de l’Étoile.
Arc de Triomphe: History
Arc de Triomphe is located right in the center of the twelve radiating Paris avenues, right on the right of Seine River bank. As its name suggests, the Arc was built to commemorate a victory of the nation. To be precise, it is Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz in 1806. In that year also the Arc was ordered to build.
However, it took time to build even the foundation of the Arc. When Napoleon entered Paris in 1810, two years after the order was commissioned, it was only the wooden mock-up greeted him and his bride, Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria.
The construction of the Arc took a really long time so that it had several architect doing the project. The first architect, Jean Chalgrin, never saw the result of the work he started since he died in 1811. Jean-Nicolas Huyot then continued the construction of the Arc until it was halted during the Bourbon Restoration. Finally, the Arc was completed under King Louis-Philippe reign in 1836 by Goust, Huyot and Héricart de Thury after a three-year work.
After its completion, Arc de Triomphe was the starting point of French soldiers’ parade after successful military campaigns and also the annual Bastille Day Military Parade. There are several famous victory marches carried out by various military troops at Arc de Triomphe. Some of them are the victory march after defeating the Germans in 1871, the French in 1919, the Germans in 1940, and the French and Allies in 1944 and 1945.
The marching under the Arc tradition then was ceased out of respect for the body of an unknown soldier of World War I who was buried there. Instead, the soldiers would march around the Arc.
A bleaching project was done to the Arc during 1965-1966 since the Arc became black and dirty with coal soot and automobile exhaust. Another Arc called the Grande Arche was then built in 1982 to become the third arch after Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Arc de Triomphe de l‘Etoile to form the famous Paris’s Axe historique.
Video History about Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile
Arc de Triomphe Today
Arc de Triomphe will please your eyes with ancient Roman architecture and its neoclassical version. It is decorated with many sculptures and reliefs of famous French sculptors such as Antoine Étex, Jean-Pierre Cortot, James Pradier, François Rude, and Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire.
Arc de Triomphe Main sculptures:
– Le Départ de 1792 (also called La Marseillaise) by François RudeÉ
– Le Triomphe de 1810 by Jean-Pierre Cortot
– La Résistance de 1814 by Antoine Étex
– La Paix de 1815 by Antoine Étex
Arc de Triomphe Six main reliefs:
– Les funérailles du général Marceau (General Marceau’s burial) by P. H. Lamaire
– La bataille d’Aboukir (The Battle of Aboukir) by Bernard Seurre
– La bataille de Jemappes (The Battle of Jemappes) by Carlo Marochetti
– Le passage du pont d’Arcole (The Battle of Arcole) by J. J. Feuchère
– La prise d’Alexandrie, (The Fall of Alexandria) by J. E. Chaponnière
– La bataille d’Austerlitz (The Battle of Austerlitz) by J. F. T. Gechter
There are also names of soldiers and generals engraved inside the walls of the monuments. They were French soldiers from major Revolutionary and Napoleon military victories. The French generals were of the First French Empire.
Every November 11, a ceremony is held to commemorate the Unknown Soldier of World War I who was buried under the Arc. The unknown soldier was meant to be buried in Panthéon on November 12, 1919 but public wanted him to be buried just where he was right now. An eternal flame was lit at the tomb to represent the memory of unidentified dead soldiers in wars.
Visiting Arc de Triomphe
You can reach this tourist attraction by RER or Metro. Take either one of the two means of transportation and stop at the Charles de Gaulle-Étoile station. There are two underpasses available for visitors due to the heavy traffic of the roundabout around the Arc. The two underpasses are located in the Champs Elysées and the Avenue de la Grande Aimeé.