March 16, 2013

Inside the Arc de Triomphe

"Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment."
Napoleon Bonaparte

Ever since we moved to Paris in September 2011 I have been wanting to climb up the Arc de Triomphe. Today was my EUREKA moment.

I convinced my kids that it was the perfect day to ascend the 284 steps within the arch that was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his victories. Napoleon was ousted before the arch was completed and it wasn't completed until 1836 during the reign of Louis-Philippe. The Arc de Triomphe is engraved with names of generals who commanded French troops during Napoleon's regime.

The top of the arch features a viewing platform with stunning views of La Defense, the Champs-Elysées and the Sacré-Coeur. Even teenage Expat boy who was complaing about having to stand in line at the ticket booth had to admit that the wait had been worth it.

See for yourself:

284 stairs ... all that jogging is paying off. 

Plaster cast inside the arch of a statue of Marianne, the national emblem of France and an allegory of Liberty and Reason.

A well-trodden staircase 

The arch is located at the end of the Champs-Elysées, in the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle, a large circular square from which no less than 12 streets emanate. The streets are named after French military leaders.

Looking down La Grande Armée - the other side - towards La Defense

Just a skip and a hop to the Tour Eiffel

La grande dame de fer

Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

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