The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile (French pronunciation: [aʁk də tʁijɔ̃f də letwal] (listen), Triumphal Arch of the Star) is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, France, standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly named Place de l'Étoile — the étoile or "star" of the juncture formed by its twelve radiating avenues. The location of the arc and the plaza is shared between three arrondissements, 16th (south and west), 17th (north) and 8th (east). The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
As the central cohesive element of the Axe historique (historic axis, a sequence of monuments and grand thoroughfares on a route running from the courtyard of the Louvre to the Grande Arche de la Défense), the Arc de Triomphe was designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1806, and its iconographic program pits heroically nude French youths against bearded Germanic warriors in chain mail. It set the tone for public monuments with triumphant patriotic messages. Inspired by the Arch of Titus in Rome, Italy, the Arc de Triomphe has an overall height of 50 metres (164 ft), width of 45 m (148 ft) and depth of 22 m (72 ft), while its large vault is 29.19 m (95.8 ft) high and 14.62 m (48.0 ft) wide. The smaller transverse vaults are 18.68 m (61.3 ft) high and 8.44 m (27.7 ft) wide. Three weeks after the Paris victory parade in 1919 (marking the end of hostilities in World War I), Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport biplane under the arch's primary vault, with the event captured on newsreel.
Paris's Arc de Triomphe was the tallest triumphal arch until the completion of the Monumento a la Revolución in Mexico City in 1938, which is 67 metres (220 ft) high. The Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang, completed in 1982, is modelled on the Arc de Triomphe and is slightly taller at 60 m (197 ft). La Grande Arche in La Defense near Paris is 110 metres high. Although it is not named an Arc de Triomphe, it has been designed on the same model and in the perspective of the Arc de Triomphe. It qualifies as the world's tallest arch.
|Arc de Triomphe|
The Arc de Triomphe seen from the east
Location within Paris
|Alternative names||Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile|
|Location||Place Charles de Gaulle (formerly Place de l'Étoile)|
|Construction started||15 August 1806|
|Inaugurated||29 July 1836|
|Height||50 m (164 ft)|
|Other dimensions||Wide: 45 m (148 ft)|
Deep: 22 m (72 ft)
|Design and construction|
Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury
The Arc de Triomphe is located on the right bank of the Seine at the centre of a dodecagonal configuration of twelve radiating avenues. It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Emperor Napoleon at the peak of his fortunes. Laying the foundations alone took two years and, in 1810, when Napoleon entered Paris from the west with his bride Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, he had a wooden mock-up of the completed arch constructed. The architect, Jean Chalgrin, died in 1811 and the work was taken over by Jean-Nicolas Huyot.
During the Bourbon Restoration, construction was halted and it would not be completed until the reign of King Louis-Philippe, between 1833 and 1836, by the architects Goust, then Huyot, under the direction of Héricart de Thury. On 15 December 1840, brought back to France from Saint Helena, Napoleon's remains passed under it on their way to the Emperor's final resting place at the Invalides. Prior to burial in the Panthéon, the body of Victor Hugo was displayed under the Arc during the night of 22 May 1885.
The sword carried by the Republic in the Marseillaise relief broke off on the day, it is said, that the Battle of Verdun began in 1916. The relief was immediately hidden by tarpaulins to conceal the accident and avoid any undesired ominous interpretations. On 7 August 1919, Charles Godefroy successfully flew his biplane under the Arc. Jean Navarre was the pilot who was tasked to make the flight, but he died on 10 July 1919 when he crashed near Villacoublay while training for the flight.
Following its construction, the Arc de Triomphe became the rallying point of French troops parading after successful military campaigns and for the annual Bastille Day military parade. Famous victory marches around or under the Arc have included the Germans in 1871, the French in 1919, the Germans in 1940, and the French and Allies in 1944 and 1945. A United States postage stamp of 1945 shows the Arc de Triomphe in the background as victorious American troops march down the Champs-Élysées and U.S. airplanes fly overhead on 29 August 1944. After the interment of the Unknown Soldier, however, all military parades (including the aforementioned post-1919) have avoided marching through the actual arch. The route taken is up to the arch and then around its side, out of respect for the tomb and its symbolism. Both Hitler in 1940 and de Gaulle in 1944 observed this custom.
By the early 1960s, the monument had grown very blackened from coal soot and automobile exhaust, and during 1965–1966 it was cleaned through bleaching. In the prolongation of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, a new arch, the Grande Arche de la Défense, was built in 1982, completing the line of monuments that forms Paris's Axe historique. After the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, the Grande Arche is the third arch built on the same perspective.
The astylar design is by Jean Chalgrin (1739–1811), in the Neoclassical version of ancient Roman architecture. Major academic sculptors of France are represented in the sculpture of the Arc de Triomphe: Jean-Pierre Cortot; François Rude; Antoine Étex; James Pradier and Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire. The main sculptures are not integral friezes but are treated as independent trophies applied to the vast ashlar masonry masses, not unlike the gilt-bronze appliqués on Empire furniture. The four sculptural groups at the base of the Arc are The Triumph of 1810 (Cortot), Resistance and Peace (both by Antoine Étex) and the most renowned of them all, Departure of the Volunteers of 1792 commonly called La Marseillaise (François Rude). The face of the allegorical representation of France calling forth her people on this last was used as the belt buckle for the honorary rank of Marshal of France. Since the fall of Napoleon (1815), the sculpture representing Peace is interpreted as commemorating the Peace of 1815.
In the attic above the richly sculptured frieze of soldiers are 30 shields engraved with the names of major French victories in the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars. The inside walls of the monument list the names of 660 people, among which are 558 French generals of the First French Empire; The names of those generals killed in battle are underlined. Also inscribed, on the shorter sides of the four supporting columns, are the names of the major French victories in the Napoleonic Wars. The battles that took place in the period between the departure of Napoleon from Elba to his final defeat at Waterloo are not included.
For four years from 1882 to 1886, a monumental sculpture by Alexandre Falguière topped the arch. Titled Le triomphe de la Révolution ("The Triumph of the Revolution"), it depicted a chariot drawn by horses preparing "to crush Anarchy and Despotism". It remained there only four years before falling in ruins.
Inside the monument, a permanent exhibition conceived by the artist Maurice Benayoun and the architect Christophe Girault opened in February 2007. The steel and new media installation interrogates the symbolism of the national monument, questioning the balance of its symbolic message during the last two centuries, oscillating between war and peace.
Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. Interred on Armistice Day 1920, it has the first eternal flame lit in Western and Eastern Europe since the Vestal Virgins' fire was extinguished in the fourth century. It burns in memory of the dead who were never identified (now in both world wars).
A ceremony is held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier every 11 November on the anniversary of the Armistice of 11 November 1918 signed by the Entente Powers and Germany in 1918. It was originally decided on 12 November 1919 to bury the unknown soldier's remains in the Panthéon, but a public letter-writing campaign led to the decision to bury him beneath the Arc de Triomphe. The coffin was put in the chapel on the first floor of the Arc on 10 November 1920, and put in its final resting place on 28 January 1921. The slab on top bears the inscription ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914–1918 ("Here lies a French soldier who died for the fatherland 1914–1918").
In 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy paid their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, accompanied by President Charles de Gaulle. After the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy, Mrs Kennedy remembered the eternal flame at the Arc de Triomphe and requested that an eternal flame be placed next to her husband's grave at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. President Charles de Gaulle went to Washington to attend the state funeral, and witnessed Jacqueline Kennedy lighting the eternal flame that had been inspired by her visit to France.
The Arc de Triomphe is accessible by the RER and Métro, with exit at the Charles de Gaulle—Étoile station. Because of heavy traffic on the roundabout of which the Arc is the centre, it is recommended that pedestrians use one of two underpasses located at the Champs Élysées and the Avenue de la Grande Armée. A lift will take visitors almost to the top – to the attic, where there is a small museum which contains large models of the Arc and tells its story from the time of its construction. Another 46 steps remain to climb in order to reach the top, the terrasse, from where one can enjoy a panoramic view of Paris.
Antoine Richepanse (25 March 1770 – 3 September 1802) was a French revolutionary general and colonial administrator.Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (pronounced [aʁk də tʁijɔ̃f dy kaʁusɛl]) is a triumphal arch in Paris, located in the Place du Carrousel. It is an example of Corinthian style architecture. It was built between 1806 and 1808 to commemorate Napoleon's military victories of the previous year. The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, at the far end of the Champs Élysées, was designed in the same year; it is about twice the size and was not completed until 1836.Axe historique
The Axe historique (pronounced [aks istɔʁik]; English: historical axis) is a line of monuments, buildings and thoroughfares that extends from the centre of Paris, France, to the west. It is also known as the Voie Triomphale ("triumphal way").
The Axe Historique began with the creation of the Champs Élysées, designed in the 17th century to create a vista to the west, extending the central axis of the gardens to the royal Palace of the Tuileries. Today the Tuileries Gardens (Jardins des Tuileries) remain, preserving their wide central pathway, though the palace was burned down during the Paris Commune, 1871.
Between the Tuileries gardens and the Champs Élysées extension a jumble of buildings remained on the site of Place de la Concorde until early in the reign of Louis XV, for whom the square was at first named. Then the garden axis could open through a grand gateway into the new royal square.
To the east, the Tuileries Palace faced an open square, the Place du Carrousel. There, by order of Napoleon, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel was centered on the palace (and so on the same axial line that was developing beyond the palace). Long-standing plans to link the entrance court of the "Vieux Louvre", as the disused palace was called, with the court of the Tuileries, by sweeping away the intervening buildings, finally came to fruition in the early 19th century. Consequently, the older axis extending from the courtyard of the Louvre is slightly skewed to the rest of what has become the Axe historique, but the Arc du Carrousel, at the fulcrum between the two, serves to disguise the discontinuity.
To the west, the completion of the Arc de Triomphe in 1836 on the Place de l'Étoile at the western end of the Champs Élysées formed the far point of this line of perspective, which now starts at the equestrian statue of Louis XIV placed by I.M. Pei adjacent to his Pyramide du Louvre in the Cour Napoléon of the Musée du Louvre.
The axis was extended again westwards along the Avenue de la Grande Armée, past the city boundary of Paris to La Défense. This was originally a large junction, named for a statue commemorating the defence of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War.
In the 1950s, the area around La Défense was marked out to become a new business district, and high-rise office buildings were built along the avenue. The axis found itself extended yet again, with ambitious projects for the western extremity of the modern plaza.
It was not until the 1980s, under president François Mitterrand, that a project was initiated, with a modern 20th century version of the Arc de Triomphe. This is the work of Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen, La Grande Arche de la Fraternité (also known as simply La Grande Arche or L'Arche de la Défense), a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals rather than militaristic victories. It was inaugurated in 1989.
The network of railway lines and road tunnels beneath the elevated plaza of La Défense prevented the pillars supporting the arch from being exactly in line with the axis: it is slightly out of line, bending the axis should it be extended further to the west. From the roof of the Grande Arche, a second axis can be seen: the Tour Montparnasse stands exactly behind the Eiffel Tower.
The Seine-Arche project is extending the historical axis to the West through the city of Nanterre, but with a slight curve.Bon-Adrien Jeannot de Moncey
Bon-Adrien Jeannot de Moncey (or Jannot de Moncey), 1st Duke of Conegliano, 1st Baron of Conegliano, Peer of France (31 July 1754 – 20 April 1842), Marshal of France, was a prominent soldier in the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. Later he became Governor of the Hôtel des Invalides (a home for veterans). MONCEY is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 33.Champs-Élysées
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées (French pronunciation: [av(ə).ny de ʃɑ̃z‿e.li.ze]) is an avenue in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France, 1.9 kilometres (1.2 mi) long and 70 metres (230 ft) wide, running between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is located. It is known for its theatres, cafés, and luxury shops, for the annual Bastille Day military parade, and as the finish of the Tour de France cycle race.
The name is French for the Elysian Fields, the paradise for dead heroes in Greek mythology. Champs-Élysées is widely regarded to be one of the most recognisable avenues in the world.Eugène-Casimir Villatte
Eugène-Casimir Villatte, Comte d'Oultremont (14 April 1770 – 14 May 1834) fought in the French army during the Wars of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. He rose to command a division at many of the important battles in the Peninsular War. His is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.Grande Arche
La Grande Arche de la Défense (pronounced [la ɡʁɑ̃d aʁʃ də la defɑ̃s], "The Great Arc of the Defense"; also La Grande Arche de la Fraternité) is a monument and building in the business district of La Défense and in the commune of Puteaux, to the west of Paris, France. It is usually known as the Arche de la Défense or simply as La Grande Arche. A 110-metre-high (360 ft) cube, La Grande Arche is part of the perspective from the Louvre to Arc de Triomphe. The distance from La Grande Arche to Arc de Triomphe is 4 km (2 1⁄2 miles).Guillaume-Mathieu Dumas
Guillaume Mathieu, comte Dumas (23 November 1753 – 16 October 1837) was a French general.Jacques Louis François Delaistre de Tilly
Jacques-Louis-François Delaistre de Tilly (2 February 1749, Vernon, Eure – 10 January 1822, Paris) became a general officer in the French army during the French Revolutionary Wars. He led a cavalry division in a number of battles during the Napoleonic Wars. His name is inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.Jean-Antoine Marbot
Jean-Antoine Marbot, born 7 December 1754 in Altillac (Corrèze), died 19 April 1800 in Genoa (Italy), was a French General and politician. He belongs to a family that has distinguished itself particularly in the career of arms, giving three Generals to France in less than 50 years.Jean-Charles Pichegru
Jean-Charles Pichegru (16 February 1761 – 5 April 1804) was a distinguished French general of the Revolutionary Wars. Under his command, French troops overran Belgium and the Netherlands before fighting on the Rhine front. His royalist positions led to his loss of power and imprisonment in Cayenne, French Guiana during the Coup of 18 Fructidor in 1797. After escaping into exile in London and joining the staff of Alexander Korsakov, he returned to France and planned the Pichegru Conspiracy to remove Napoleon from power, which led to his arrest and death. Despite his defection, his surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 3.Jean-Étienne Championnet
Jean-Étienne Vachier Championnet, also known as Championnet (13 April 1762, Alixan, Drôme – 9 January 1800), led a Republican French division in many important battles during the French Revolutionary Wars. He became commander-in-chief of the Army of Rome in 1798 and of the Army of Italy in 1799. He died in early 1800 of typhus. His name is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 3.Jean Thomas Guillaume Lorge
Jean Thomas Guillaume Lorge (born 22 November 1767 in Caen; died 28 November 1826 in Chauconin-Neufmontiers), was a French cavalry commander during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Lorge is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 6.Joseph Marie Servan de Gerbey
Joseph Marie Servan de Gerbey (14 February 1741 – 10 May 1808) was a French general. During the Revolution he served twice as Minister of War and briefly led the Army of the Western Pyrenees. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 33.Lazare Hoche
Louis Lazare Hoche (24 June 1768 – 19 September 1797) was a French soldier who rose to be general of the Revolutionary army. He won a victory over Royalist forces in Brittany. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 3. Richard Holmes says he was, "quick-thinking, stern, and ruthless...a general of real talent whose early death was a loss to France."Louis-Charles de Flers
Louis-Charles de La Motte-Ango, vicomte de Flers (12 June 1754 – 22 July 1794) joined the French Royal army and rose in rank to become a general officer in the French Revolutionary Wars. After serving in the Austrian Netherlands, he was appointed to command the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees. His army suffered several defeats in May and June 1793, but he rallied his troops to win a defensive victory at the Battle of Perpignan in July. The all-powerful Representatives-on-mission arrested him in August 1793 for a minor setback and sent him to Paris under arrest. The Committee of Public Safety executed him by guillotine on trumped up charges in the last days of the Reign of Terror. De Flers is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.Names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe
The following is the list of the names of the 660 persons inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris. Most of them are generals who served during the First French Empire (1804–1814) with additional figures from the French Revolution (1789–1799). Underlined names signify those killed in action.Paul Grenier
Paul Grenier (29 January 1768 – 17 April 1827) joined the French royal army and rapidly rose to general officer rank during the French Revolutionary Wars. He led a division in the 1796-1797 campaign in southern Germany. During the 1800 campaign in the Electorate of Bavaria he was a wing commander. Beginning in 1809, in the Napoleonic Wars, Emperor Napoleon I entrusted him with corps commands in the Italian theater. A skilled tactician, he was one of the veteran generals who made the Napoleonic armies such a formidable foe to the other European powers. After the Bourbon Restoration he retired from the army and later went into politics. Grenier is one of the Names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.Place du Carrousel
The Place du Carrousel (French pronunciation: [plas dy kaʁuzɛl]) is a public square in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, located at the open end of the courtyard of the Louvre Palace, a space occupied, prior to 1883, by the Tuileries Palace. Sitting directly between the museum and the Tuileries Garden, the Place du Carrousel delineates the eastern end of the gardens just as the Place de la Concorde defines its western end.
The name "carrousel" refers to a type of military dressage, an equine demonstration now commonly called military drill. The Place du Carrousel was named in 1662, when it was used for such a display by Louis XIV.
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The École Japonaise de Paris (Japanese School of Paris) was in Trocadéro until 1990
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