Visiting the Arc de Triomphe
This towering monument is one of the city’s most iconic, with exceptional architecture and ties to plenty of significant events from the country’s past.
As well as being an impressive historical monument, the Arc de Triomphe lets visitors ascend to its 50-metre high viewing platform for some of the best panoramas across Paris. So, whether you’re a history buff or just looking to snap that perfect landscape for your holiday album, a stop at the Arc de Triomphe is always a good idea.
Getting to the Arc de Triomphe by train
The easiest way to get to the Arc de Triomphe, or anywhere in Paris, is by train. The city boasts an extensive Metro and RER service, which means you can hop from A to B in a matter of minutes. Ticket prices start at €1.90, although your fare will depend on how far you have to travel and how many zones you’ll cross to get where you’re going.
If you're travelling from within France to Paris, the capital is served by plenty of high-speed SNCF lines from all corners of the country. These are some of the most popular services to Paris, most of which arrive into Gare du Nord or Gare de Lyon stations:
|Avignon to Paris||2h 41m||Yes|
|Bordeaux to Paris||2h 09m||Yes|
|Lyon to Paris||1h 55m||Yes|
|Marseille to Paris||3h 12m||Yes|
|Nice to Paris||5h 44m||Yes|
|Strasbourg to Paris||2h 23m||Yes|
Which station is closest to the Arc de Triomphe?
There are lots of stops around the landmark, so you can choose the one that best suits your plans. The nearest Metro stop is Charles de Gaulle – Étoile, on Metro line 1. This is conveniently located right underneath the Arc de Triomphe, which means you can come out of the station and enjoy the monument right away. You can also take an RER service to Charles de Gaulle – Étoile, making it doubly convenient for a quick visit to the monumental archway.
If you’d prefer to make a little more of your time in the area, why not get off the Metro at Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau and stroll along the iconic avenue? The tree-lined Champs Élysées is one of the most famous streets in the world and home to some of the best luxury boutiques and restaurants in Paris. It also connects the Arc de Triomphe with the Place de la Concorde, a public square decorated with fountains and statues. To see the Place de la Concorde, hop off your Metro at Concorde and walk the full length of the Champs Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe.
You can see the Arc de Triomphe in around an hour, which includes the climb to the top and some sightseeing at the top. Because it’s a perfect place to swing by, we do recommend you get off the train a little further away and enjoy some of the surrounding areas as you approach. It’s one of the most popular and bustling parts of the city, so it’s worth spending some time here if you have it to spare.
The view from the top
Image: Pierre Blaché/Flickr
The viewpoint from the top of the monument offers some of the best panoramas in Paris. These are made even better by the iconic Eiffel Tower jutting out from the landscape. The tower itself boasts brilliant views, but there’s something special about seeing it as part of Paris, rather than looking out from it.
As well as spotting famous Parisian landmarks, you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the crazy traffic that rushes around the base of the Arc de Triomphe! This is one of the busiest parts of the city, with lots going on down below. You’ll also be able to see down the famous Champs-Elysées, which is even more impressive from above than from ground level. Finally, look out for the 12 of the grand boulevards which radiate from the Place Charles de Gaulle. Don’t forget your camera!
Arc de Triomphe Opening Times and Ticket Prices
You can enjoy a walk around the base and through the archways of this landmark at any time. Exploring the Arc de Triomphe in this way is totally free. It promises to be a memorable experience, letting you get up close with lots of impressive details, including iconic sculptures and engravings.
If you’d like to climb up the stairs to the viewing platform, it’ll cost you a small fee. These are the most recent admission prices for 2020:
EU residents (age 18-25)
Children (under 18)
You should head to the website and book your ticket and timeslot online before you get there. This can save queuing and confusion, and help you plan out your day knowing what time you should arrive at the Arc de Triomphe.
Important: don’t try to cross the busy road to get to the Arc de Triomphe! There’s an underground passageway which will get you there in one piece.
Restaurants, Bars, and Shops near the Arc de Triomphe
All that history is hungry work! Thanks to its bustling location, you can find lots of great restaurants and bars close to the Arc de Triomphe, as well as some of the best shopping in Paris. Let’s check out some of the best places to grab a bite, as well as some of the most exciting retail the area has to offer.
Where to eat near the Arc de Triomphe
Image: Carl Campbell/Flickr
When you’re done visiting the Arc de Triomphe, the natural place to head is the glistening Champs-Élysées. One of the most famous avenues in all of Paris and home to a plethora of luxurious boutiques, it’s no surprise that the street is also packed with excellent restaurants. Our favourites include:
- Le Fouquet’s – a classic Parisian brasserie with ties to the artistic community
- Le Hide – a traditional French bistro steps away from the Arc de Triomphe
- L'Atelier Etoile – Joël Robuchon’s open-kitchen spot
- Ladurée – for some of the best desserts in Paris
- Le Relais de l'Entrecôte – serves only steak frites, but the best in town
- Plaza Athenée – headed up by Alain Ducasse, so you know you’re in for a treat
If you’re tired of the hustle and bustle of the Champs-Élysées, we don’t blame you. Magnificent as it is, one of the most famous streets in the world can be overwhelming after a while. Here are some of the best lesser-known restaurants and bars you can find tucked in the streets around the Arc de Triomphe:
- La Fermette Marbeuf – a hidden gem with exuberant interiors and classic food
- Philippe et Jean Pierre – for sunny, semi-luxurious Mediterranean food
- Sir Winston – one of the oldest English pubs in Paris
- Charlie Birdy – an enormous pub with regular live music
The best shopping near the Arc de Triomphe
You know what we’re going to say here. The Arc de Triomphe is perfectly positioned at the end of the Champs-Élysées, so shoppers can enjoy browsing some of the most iconic boutiques in Paris during a visit to the monument. Walk along the avenue on your way to the archway or enjoy some retail therapy after your visit. Whatever way you approach the Champs-Élysées, we’re sure you’ll fall in love with some of the couture, skincare, and gourmet treats on offer. Some famous shops include:
- J.M. Weston
- Éric Bompard
- Louis Vuitton
Whether you’re in the market for something designer or just window shopping, you can’t beat a stroll through some of these iconic luxury boutiques. The area is a shopper’s paradise, while there are lots of smaller, more budget-friendly boutiques in the pretty surrounding streets.
Arc de Triomphe history and facts
The story of this towering landmark starts in 1806 when Napoleon I commissioned a triumphal archway to celebrate his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. This new monument would represent the great military achievements of the French armies.
The job of designing the structure was given to Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin, a French architect known for his influence on Neoclassical style. The Arc de Triumph was to be built at the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, which was then called the Place de l’Étoile. 12 of the city’s grand avenues radiate outwards from the plaza, giving it the appearance of a star, or étoile, from above.
Construction of the Arc de Triomphe
Building began on the 15th of August 1806, which was Napoleon’s birthday. Sadly, only a small portion of the archway was built by the time of the emperor’s death in 1811, which means he never got to see his celebratory monument finished.
In 1823, King Louis XVIII ordered work be recommenced following the success of the French invasion of Spain. The basic structure was finished by 1831. The rest of the work, including carvings and statues, would be added over the next five years. 30 years after Napoleon I’s commission, the Arc de Triomphe was officially opened by King Louis-Philippe in July 1836.
Architecture and decoration
Chalgrin’s design for the Arc de Triomphe was partly inspired by the Arch of Titus in Rome. However, the French structure is much bigger, and would tower over its Italian counterpart should the two ever meet. This type of architecture is characterised by grand scale and simplistic geometric forms, both features which can be seen clearly in the Arc de Triomphe.
The archway is adorned with decorative sculptures which celebrate military victories of the French Revolution and the First Empire. Each of its four pedestals displays one of these carvings, which include:
- The Triumph by Jean-Pierre Cortot
- Resistance by Antoine Étex
- Peace by Antoine Étex
- Departure of the Volunteers by François Rude
The most famous of these sculptures is Rude’s Departure of the Volunteers of 1792, which commemorates the Battle of Valmy, and is the artists best-known work.
The Arc de Triomphe is richly decorated. As well as its four main sculptures, the inside walls are adorned with the names of 660 military leaders, mostly Napoleon’s French generals. The smaller sides of the four supporting columns display the names of victorious battles.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame
Underneath the arch lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which was added in 1921. This is a monument to the men who died fighting for France and the memories of all soldiers killed in the country’s wars. The remains buried here were chosen from eight identical coffins, each containing body of an unknown French soldier.
The eternal flame was first lit in remembrance of the unknown soldier in 1923. Since then, it’s been rekindled every night to celebrate the sacrifices made by soldiers at war.
There’s plenty to take in when you visit the Arc de Triomphe, so keep your eyes open and look out for all the details that make this landmark so unique.
Visiting Paris from further afield?
Europe is so well connected by rail that you can get to Paris on the train easily from mainland Europe and the UK. Not only is it the scenic way to travel, you'll be doing your bit for the environment, too. These are just some of the journeys you can take to get to Paris from Europe:
|London to Paris||2h 16m||Direct|
|Barcelona to Paris||6h 38m||Direct|
|Amsterdam to Paris||3h 20m||Direct|
|Brussels to Paris||1h 22m||Direct|
|Zurich to Paris||4h 06m||Direct|
|Munich to Paris||6h 37m||1 change|
|Stuttgart to Paris||4h 13m||Direct|