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Climb the 284 steps of the Arc de Triomphe to see the beating heart of Paris spread out at your feet. The triumphal arch is the centrepiece of Place Charles de Gaulle, the “star” (or “étoile”, as it’s known to Parisians) formed by the intersection of twelve main avenues, including the world-famous Champs-Elysées. Although it’s on a busy traffic junction, a network of pedestrian crossings and plenty of room around the base makes it easy to explore on foot.
The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon following his famous victory at Austerlitz in 1806. The great general wanted a grand triumphal arch to greet his brave troops as they returned home, but its protracted construction meant that he never lived to see its completion in 1836. However his vision lives on in this powerful memorial to all those who have fought for France throughout the centuries.
The four pillars which form the corners of the arch are so wide that in 1919 it was possible to fly a plane between them. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added in 1920, in remembrance of the casualties of World War I, followed three years later by an eternal flame, which is ceremoniously rekindled every day at 6.30 p.m. Engravings on the pillars chronicle the various wars fought by France and the generals who masterminded the campaigns.
The arch is richly decorated with sculptures in relief, the most famous of which is The Departure of the Volunteers of 1792. This stirring depiction by the celebrated French sculptor François Rude of Liberty leading a party of patriotic volunteers off to war is known as “La Marseillaise”, and is one of the arch’s most photographed features. On Bastille Day (14 July), the carriageways of the Champs-Elysées are filled with the noise and colour of the grand parade and the French Tricolour is hoisted high above the arch in a flamboyant gesture of national pride.
Once you’ve explored the arch at ground level, climb the steps or take the lift to the top for fabulous views across Paris, especially in the early evening when the skyline is studded with lights. There is also a museum and gift shop where you can learn a little more about the arch’s importance to the French nation and purchase a memento of your visit.
The Arc de Triomphe is open daily and is situated in the 16th arrondissement on the Right Bank. There is an admission charge to reach the top level. Place Charles de Gaulle is easily accessed by all public transport but parking in the vicinity – as in much of central Paris – is very limited.
Located in 17th Arrondissement, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Palais des Congres de Paris, Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe. Luis Vuitton Foundation Museum and Grand Palais are also within 3 mi (5 km). Paris Neuilly-Porte-Maillot Station is only a 4-minute walk and Porte Maillot Station is 5 minutes.
Located in Paris City Centre, this hotel is steps away from Avenue Georges V and Champs-Elysees. Lido and Arc de Triomphe are also within 10 minutes. George V Station is only a 3-minute walk and Charles de Gaulle - Etoile Station is 6 minutes.
Located in Paris City Centre, this luxury palace is steps away from Avenue Georges V and Avenue Montaigne. Champs-Elysees and Lido are also within 10 minutes. George V Station is only a 5-minute walk and Alma-Marceau Station is 7 minutes.
Located in 17th Arrondissement, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, Champs-Elysees and Parc Monceau. Arc de Triomphe and Lido are also within 1 mile (2 km). Ternes Station is only a 5-minute walk and Courcelles Station is 5 minutes.
Located in 8th Arrondissement, this hotel is steps away from Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees. Lido and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore are also within 10 minutes. Paris Charles de Gaulle - Etoile Station is only a 2-minute walk and Charles de Gaulle - Etoile Station is 3 minutes.
Located in Paris City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe and Lido. Avenue Montaigne and Place du Trocadero are also within 15 minutes. Boissiere Station and Kleber Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in 16th Arrondissement, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Champs-Elysees, Baccarat Museum and Arc de Triomphe. Place Charles de Gaulle Etoile and Place du Trocadero are also within 15 minutes. Kleber Station is only a 2-minute walk and Paris Charles de Gaulle - Etoile Station is 5 minutes.
Located in Paris City Centre, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Champs-Elysees, Lido and Arc de Triomphe. Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore and Avenue Montaigne are also within 15 minutes. Charles de Gaulle - Etoile Station and George V Station are within a 5-minute walk.