The Arc de Triomphe is located on the right bank of the River Seine in the Place de l’Étoile (also known as the Place Charles de Gaulle) at the top of the Champs-Elysees. It represents the French nation and links the old with the new Paris.
The Arc was originally commissioned in 1806 after the victory of Austerlitz by Napoleon; the neoclassical design inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus. During the period of construction it went through three changes to the architects involved and was finally completed in the reign of King Louis-Thury in 1836.Standing 50m high there are both large and small vaults incorporated into the structure, four pillars with huge relief sculptures at the base of each pillar which commemorate ‘The Triumph of 1810, Resistance, Peace and The Departure of the Volunteers’ (more commonly known as La Marseillaise).
Engraved around the top of the arch are the names of the major victories of the French Revolution and Napoleonic eras. Inside are inscribed the names of lesser victories as well as generals throughout the ages and finally beneath the arch is the Tomb of the Unknown Solider and eternal flame commemorating those lost in the two world wars.
Once you have visited the Arc de Triomphe you can head next to the prestigious Avenue des Champs-Elysees – one of the most important shopping boulevards in the world. This iconic avenue in Paris needs no introduction; together with the Eiffel Tower it is the image of Paris most used by the foreign media to depict the city.
However, although it is still an important attraction with its beautiful broad sidewalks, shady chestnut trees and colourful flowerbeds, it has definitely lost some of its appeal in recent years, becoming more populated with banks, exchange agencies and high street chains.
Still the avenue is a magnet for tourists and there are many typical Parisian cafes where you can rest your feet and enjoy a café and a croissant. And after all you can’t go to Paris without saying you have walked along the Avenue des Champs-Elysees!
Throughout December and into the New Year, Christmas Trees and lights decorate the Champs-Elysees, making the avenue a picture postcard. During Christmas the Champs-Elysees holds an annual Christmas market, which runs throughout December, through to January 4th. It stretches from Rond Point to the Place de la Concord, and each year presents a special theme.
The city’s prestigious boulevard is also the place to head to see in the New Year wishing Bon Annee to your new Parisian friends. From here you get a superb view of the fireworks display that lights up the Eiffel Tower at midnight.
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