The gateway to Paris
The Arc de Triomphe is undoubtedly one of Paris’ most inspiring landmarks. And the approach on our Paris bus tour takes your breath away. We whisk you straight up the Champs-Élysées and all the way around the Arc de Triomphe. What’s more, you can hop off just over the road to get closer, or even go inside. Between November and March, entry is absolutely free on the first Sunday of the month.
History of the Arc de Triomphe
The Arc was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon after his famous victory at Austerlitz. He told his Grand Armee, “You will return home through arches of triumph"”. Sadly, Napoleon never saw his Arc de Triomphe completed, dying in exile on the Island of Saint Helena.
The Arc de Triomphe honours French soldiers who fought and died in both the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The friezes around the Arc depict famous battles from that time, while the names of battles and generals are inscribed under the vault.
Art meets Arc
There are four large sculptures around the base of the arch. The most famous depicts the Marseillaise, which is also the inspiration for the French national anthem.
Other interesting facts about the Arc de Triomphe:
- Construction stopped between 1814 and 1826 while Napoleon was exiled. The Arc was only finished in 1836 - long after his death in 1821 - but his body was taken through the Arc during his state funeral procession
- At 45 metres wide (148 feet) and 50 metres high (164 feet), it’s the world’s second-largest triumphal arch (North Korea deliberately built a bigger one)
- At the base is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where a flame continually burns for the soldiers from World War I
- You can go inside and climb to the top for great views across Paris
- Charles Godefroy flew a biplane under the Arc in 1919.