One of the most iconic symbols of the city of Paris is the Arc de Triomphe, a triumphal arch located in the Place Charles de Gaulle at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. Inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus, it stands 50 metres (164 feet) in height, 45 metres (148 feet) wide and 22 metres (72 feet) deep. Its construction was first suggested by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 and it was completed 25 years later, in 1836. As such, it has been a part of the Parisian landscape for the last two centuries, attracting millions of visitors every year.
The question of whether the Arc de Triomphe is open has become increasingly relevant recently due to the numerous safety concerns raised by the global pandemic. Many public sites in Paris have had to review and modify the safety procedures, which can often affect whether a location is open to the public or not. Fortunately, the Arc de Triomphe is still open to the public and visitors can continue to admire the beauty of this Parisian emblem.
Due to the importance of this site and its great popularity with tourists, different measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of all. These include the implementation of temperature checks, social distancing protocols and the wearing of face masks while on the premises. All visitors must adhere to these safety guidelines in order to gain access to the site, which is monitored by security personnel.
As the number of visitors has dropped significantly due to the restrictions, it has been necessary to reduce the opening hours of the Arc de Triomphe in order to mitigate the risk of overcrowding. Currently, it is open from 10am to 5pm on Tuesday to Sunday, and it is closed on Mondays.
As experts in the field point out, safety should always be the top priority when visiting any tourist site, but it is also important to take into account the effects of such precautions on the visitor experience. It is clear that the current arrangements have an impact on visitors enjoying their time there, as arrows have been placed on the ground to direct visitors to designated viewing areas and to enforce social distancing. Furthermore, many of the areas that are usually open, such as the terraces, are closed, and the number of visitors allowed in at any one time is limited.
The consensus among experts is that although the Arc de Triomphe is one of the most renowned sites of the city and its restrictions are necessary to keep people safe, the level of comfort and enjoyment of the visit has been reduced. This may be particularly true when compared to the visit pre-pandemic, where people could move freely and the atmosphere was much more welcoming.
Despite the aforementioned safety standards and restrictions implemeted, the Arc and its surroundings still offer impressive views and plenty of photo opportunities. Arc De Triomphe is one of the greatest symbols of nationhood from the 19th century, and is still an important part of Paris’s history and culture, making it a must-visit for all visitors to the city.
Artwork and architecture
The Arc de Triomphe is a monument of considerable architectural and artistic value that stands as a testament of French achievement. Built by architect Jean-François Chalgrin between 1806 and 1836, the building stands out with is intricate details and decorations. It is composed of a central vault, four wings and two side passageways, adding to the complex structure. The exterior is decorated with sculptures and reliefs that commemorate Napoleon’s military campaigns, while the interior is decorated with paintings of the battles and military awards.
The building was recently restored in 2018 and the results were stunning. The intricate details were revitalized, and the works of the original architect and sculptor were enhanced and conserved. The lighting project has been especially successful, highlighting the golden and bronze details of the facade at night.
Visitors can really appreciate the beauty of the building from the top, where you can spot the 12 radiating avenues that lead to the Arc de Triomphe. An interesting fact about the location is that it had originally been a horse race track, where the triumphant Napoleon would review his troops.
From up there, you can also observe the beauty of the wider Parisian layout, with its radial pattern traced by the 12 avenues which furrow out from the Arc de Triomphe. The view is impressive and romantic, making it one of the favorite places for couples to visit.
Underneath the Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is nestled within the largest roundabout in Europe. This can be a daunting experience for first-time visitors, but the experienced locals use the underground passageway to safely cross over the 7 lanes of traffic.
The underground tunnel is quite popular and very busy. It opens directly underneath the Arc de Triomphe. This particular tunnel marks the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which commemorates fallen people from the first and second world wars, with eternal flame that is rekindled every night.
The tunnel also houses souvenir shops, cafés and a number of displays with historical artifacts. This is a great place to find books, postcards or postdates that you can later send to your beloved ones. You can also wander through the various exhibitions and galleries located within the tunnel, such as the World War I Museum, or the Navette de Transport des Invalides.
From the tunnel, visitors will be able to have a better view of the monumental complex, especially during the night time when the lights of the huge monument create striking reflections.
Events and celebrations
The Arc de Triomphe often hosts events and celebrations. On 14 July, which is a National Holiday in France, the Arc de Triomphe is decorated with tricolour flags and a huge parade is organized on the Champs-Élysées. The monument is also the starting and the finishing point of the Tour de France and the famous Paris Marathon, two of the most popular sports events in France.
The site also hosts a number of other events, such as exhibitions, art walks or music concerts. It has even become the main stage of the Paris Fashion Week, when some of the biggest names in fashion descend to the site and use the projectors to create iconic light shows and performances.
It is worth noting that these events are organized by a number of different businesses and organizations, and they depend on the safety regulations that are in place at the moment. As such, it is best to check online for updates to see if any of these events are scheduled for whenever you are planning to visit the site.
Lastly, the Arc de Triomphe provides a number of educational opportunities for visitors. There are multiple guided tours that can help visitors gain a deeper understanding of the monument and its significance to the French nation. Tours can be purchased online and typically last between 45 and 90 minutes. There are also guided audio tours available which allow visitors to walk around the area at their own pace while absorbing all the historic information.
Additionally, you can also take part in workshops and other activities organized by the city of Paris, including the Artefacts Workshop and the Historical Workshop. These will provide an opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the monument, as well as the people that shaped it.
Moreover, there are organized activities for school groups, such as educational programs with specialized guides that provide extra information and insight into the history of the Arc de Triomphe. These activities are a great addition for students’ learning experience.
Visiting the Arc de Triomphe isn’t just about its grand architecture, artwork, and events. It is also a great place for people of all ages and abilities to visit. The monument is fully wheelchair accessible and offers lifts to access the balcony as well as ramps. The monument also has a wide range of disability-friendly facilities, including wider doorways, Braille signs and a dedicated toilet for disabled visitors.
The Arc de Triomphe also provides special services like the audio guide and the Artefacts Workshop which can help those with visual or hearing impairments to make the most of their visit.
In summary, it is clear that the Arc de Triomphe is still open and ready to welcome visitors. Security is of the utmost importance and measures have been implemented to ensure the safety of all, but the experience of touring this symbol of French history may have been slightly altered by the introduction of these restrictions. Despite this, it is still a great place to admire the architecture and artwork, take part in events and access educational opportunities, or simply enjoy the views of Paris from the top.