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Arch of Triumph

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The Arc du Triomphe (Arch of Triumph) is another one of Paris' most famous sites. Located at the western end of Paris' most famous street and most popular shopping area, the Champs Elysees, the Arch of Triumph is one of the largest arches in the world at 50 metres high and 45 metres wide. Finally completed in 1836, it was originally built in honour of Napoleon Bonaparte's military victory at Austerlitz, in what is today's Czech Republic. The Battle of Austerlitz is considered to be one of Napoleon's greatest victories in war.

If you plan to visit the Arch of Triumph, it is easily accessible by the Metro public transport with both Metro and RER serving the large Charles de Gaulle Etoile subway station. Metro lines #1, #2 and #6 and RER Line A serve this station. Upon exiting the station, you will reach ground level, right in front of the arch, that is just a few metres away through the underground passageway. It is not advised to cross the street to reach the arch! The rotary styled road is always packed with cars trying to access one road or another so it is quite dangerous to try to walk from the station directly to the arch via ground level.

You will have to pay a small fee to access the arch via the tunnel, to the ground level, in addition to another fee to access the top of the arch, which is well worth the view from above. There are about 230 steps leading up the stairs to the top so you have to be in relatively good health in order to access these stairs. Once at the top you can get a better, bird's eye view of the rotatory road that filters into 12 other roads, including the Champs Elysees plus the rotary road itself. The views on a clear day can be amazing as you can peer down the Champs Elysees as far down as the eastern end at the Place de la Concorde. On the opposite end, you can view the impressive collection of skyscrapers that are in the Place de la Defense, which is perhaps the most prominent business centre in Paris and named after the modernistic La Defense Grand Arche.

Under the arch is the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier", that honours the French military personnel who have died or have not been identified during war. The Tomb has an eternal flame in memory of those who have perished. The walls of the arch have distinctive sculptures that depict important events in French military history, as well as several names of military officers who served in action for France.

The Arch of Triumph is host to a number of national events such as the Bastille Day Military Parade. Perhaps even more familiar to tourists is the Tour de France, the premier cycling event in the world. One the last day of the tour, the remaining cyclists will circle the Arc and traverse up and down the Champs Elysees to the Place de la Concorde several times before finishing on the Champs Elysees.
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