However, even though this landmark arch was commissioned in 1806
by Napoleon, it was not actually completed until the 1830's during the reign of King
Louis-Philippe and was built to signify peace.
The Arc de Triomphe is also home to the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier, which was taken from
the idea of the unknown warrior at Westminster Abbey in the United Kingdom, and has an
eternal flame, which by the way, has only ever been put out once when a drunken man
decided to urinate on it and yes he was quickly arrested!!
It has the first eternal flame lit in Western Europe since the year 391 and it burns in
memory of the dead who were never identified, now in both World War I and World War II. Even
President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline paid their respects at the tomb and when
President Kennedy was assassinated, Jacqueline decided to do a similar tribute with an
eternal flame. The French President went to Washington to attend the funeral and
witnessed the lighting of the flame that had always been in Jacqueline Kennedy's mind
since her visit to France.
There are richly sculptured friezes of soldiers depicted upon the masonary of the Arc de
Triomphe, but in the attic above, there are 30 shields which are engraved with the names
of major revolutionary and Napoleonic military victories, plus the inside walls of this
historical monument list the names of hundreds of French generals.
On 11th November on the anniversary of the armistice between France and Germany that was
signed in 1918, there is now a ceremony held there every year, plus there have also been
numerous parades and other major events, for which the Arc de Triomphe is a focal point.
But it is probably without a doubt one of the main reasons that most people know about the
Arc de Triomphe is through the famous cycle race, The Tour de France as this plays an
important role for the participants.
The minute that this fabulous monumental arch comes into view, the cyclists know that the
race is almost finished, which is probably why you see a few smiles on their faces at this
point! as the Tour de France ends with vast crowds and cheering on the Champs-Elysees
Avenue, with some very exhausted participants.
Yet you can reach the Arc de Triomphe at a little more leisurely pace, either utilising
some of the bus tours in Paris or hiring a bike. Although most people get
to this famous site by taking a stroll along the Champs-Elysees and utilising the tunnel
on the north side, which is a darn site safer than trying to dodge the traffic!
It is open to the public for visits up until gone 10pm, which is a great place to get to
see the shimmering lights along the Avenue as the night draws in and for those of you who
like a bit of history, there is a small museum
inside the Arc de Triomphe, which provides a lot of information about its construction and
major points in history.
Plus the views from the top, where you can see the Eiffel
Tower in one direction, obviously with the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, and the Grande Arche within the business district in
another direction plus the Sacre Coeur Basillica
in the distance, makes a tremendous spot to experience the wonders of Paris and its
phenomenal landmarks. However, there is no lift, so to get to the viewing platform
at the top, there are a lot of steps to climb!