Place Charles de Gaulle-Etoile
The Arc de Triomphe faces the prestigious Avenue des Champs-Elysées.
This alignment is known as Voie Royale.
A major landmark of Paris, it also marks the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle – Etoile.
The gigantic roundabout was built in the mid 19th century, however, replaced an existing crossroads.
Indeed, five major lanes already crossed on Colline du Roule, among woods and open fields!
The hill had already been leveled by a few meters in the 1770s in order to reduce the slope of the lane – the future Avenue des Champs-Elysées – that originated at the Tuileries Palace.
In 1854 Haussmann opened 7 new avenues and gave the roundabout its perfect star-shape.
The architect Hittorf erected 12 (almost) identical mansions around the newly designed Butte de l’Etoile.
The Place de l’Etoile (the name evolved once more!) was renamed in 1970 in order to pay tribute to General de Gaulle.
Arc de Triomphe dedicated to Napoleon’s victories
Napoleon commissioned the architect Chalgrin with the creation of the arch in order to commemorate his military victories.
The Arc de Triomphe is therefore adorned with a wealth of sculptures, low and high reliefs, carvings, engravings and inscriptions.
Construction started in 1806, when Napoleon was at the height of his popularity.
However, the works were interrupted when Chalgrin died in 1811.
Louis XVIII resumed the works in 1833.
He commissioned the most talented artists of the time in order to complete the monument.
François Rude, Jean-Pierre Cortot and Antoine Etex therefore sculpted the monumental sculptural groups that adorn the arch’s four pillars.
These allegoric sculptures represent Napoleon’s heroic and military exploits as well as symbolic scenes.
The three sculptors
François Rude sculpted La Marseillaise.
This sculpture, also known as Le départ de 1792, represents the revolutionary volunteers from the city of Marseille marching on Paris.
Such was the symbolism of their march, that the French national emblem, La Marseillaise, was named after them.
Jean-Pierre Cortot sculpted Le Triomphe de 1810.
It represents Napoleon crowned by the goddess of Victory at the Treaty of Schönbrunn.
France and Austria signed the Treaty, also known as Treaty of Vienna, on October 14, 1809.
It put an end to the Fifth Coalition.
This conflict took place from April to July 1809 and opposed the Austrian Empire and United Kingdom to France.
Antoine Etex sculpted La Résistance de 1814.
This sculpture is an allegoric representation of the French Resistance during the Sixth Coalition.
The Sixth Coalition took place from 1812 to 1814.
It brought together the English, Russian, Prussian and Austrian Empires, Sweden and many German states against France.
Etex sculpted also La Paix de 1815; it represents the Treaty of Paris signed on November 20, 1815 after the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.
The Unknown Soldier’s grave
Louis-Philippe unveiled the monument in 1836.
The Arc de Triomphe is also engraved with the names of the 660 generals who served under the Empire and the French Republic, and with the names of the great victories of Napoleon I.
A museum dedicated to the emperor was founded on the upper floor of the arch.
The official procession that carried his remains to the Invalides in 1840 walked under the arch.
The ashes of the Unknown Soldier were laid on January 28th, 1921 in a grave dug beneath the arch.
The Flame of Remembrance was lit on November 11th, 1923.
It is rekindled every evening at 6.30pm.
Directions: 8th District
Metro: Charles de Gaulle-Etoile on Line 1,2, 6 and RER A
Coordinates: Lat 48.873781 – Long 2.295026