The gateway to Paris’s city center is the historical monument the Arc de Triomphe. Standing strong and tall, this arched monument has honored soldiers who fought for France since the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Commissioned by Napoleon himself in 1806 after his victory at Austerlitz, the monument was completed during the reign of King Louis-Philippe in 1836.
In walking the Champs Elysees the monument calls to all to come for a closer look. Many visitors are unaware of the underground access which is on the right side of the Avenue of Champs Elysees facing the Arc de Triomphe. This access provides you safe passage below the busy traffic circle that surrounds it.
The Paris Museum pass allows access into the Arc of Triomphe following a two-step security process for entry. Late afternoon is a great time to visit as many tour groups have already passed through earlier in the day. In addition, in the summertime, the light is behind you when looking down the Avenue Champs Elysees.
Climbing up to the top is not for the timid, as are many roof top accesses in Paris. Tight circular staircases that hosts many steps is standard, challenging those less fit. But the view is totally worth it. One staircase takes you up, another brings you down on the other side.
Prior to the roof-top access there is a floor with historical and educational information about the Arc de Triomphe. If you’re paying attention, you’ll find a window access that allows you to look below at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. If you can time it right, the shadows of the people offer an interesting perspective.
This monument was a pleasant surprise. Not having actually visited the Arc de Triomphe before, I had no idea the great photo opportunities it would offer. It doesn’t take long and you can easily fit it in before heading off for a leisurely Parisian dinner.