Ever since I was little, the Arc de Triomphe has been on my list of things to see in Paris. I even wanted to see it more than the Eiffel Tower. I’m not quite sure what my draw to the Arc de Triomphe was, but I was so glad we were able to see it while we were in Paris.
Getting to the Arc de Triomphe isn’t that hard, especially if you use the Paris Metro App. Use the app to get to the Charles de Gaulle stop (the metro will also have Arc de Triomphe in brown letters at the same stop). From there, just head up the stairs and you will be right in front of the Arc. This is the best place to take pictures of the whole Arc de Triomphe because you are far enough away that you can get you and the Arc in the same shot.
From there, follow the signs that will lead you to the Arc itself. You will have to go underground because the circle where the Arc de Triomphe is located is very busy with no way for pedestrians to get across. Once you get to the Arc you can walk around under it for free, or you can stand in line to purchase tickets to enter the Arc itself. You can also use the Paris Museum Pass if you have one. This is one of the sights that lets you skip ahead in line. We didn’t have to wait at all to get right in.
To get to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, you will need to climb a lot of narrow, spiral-y stairs with few places to stop. There are no elevators to the top that we saw. On its own the stairs are not too bad, but if you are planning on doing it the same day as climbing the Eiffel Tower or doing the towers of Notre Dame, your legs might hurt the next day.
At the top of the stairs there is a small gift shop, restrooms, and a few gallery pieces to look at. Then there is one more smaller set of stairs that will take you to the very top of the Arc de Triomphe. The views are amazing from up there! You can see a complete 360 degree view of the city. There are plenty of places for photo ops with the Parisian skyline in the background. Even though the views are awesome, be prepared for not a super clear day. When we went it was quite hazy and smoggy. Another fun thing to do at the top was to watch the traffic move around the Arc. It would be really cool to take a time lapse of that.
Underneath the Arc (which is free to enter) you will see beautiful stone work and engravings as well as the memorial flame for the Unknown Soldier. There are plenty of places to sit under the Arc and it is just a nice place to be while you recover from the hundreds of steps you have walked up and down.
When you are ready to leave, go back to the stairs that you climbed up to get to the Arc de Triomphe but turn around to see the stairs to exit. We walked all around the Arc to try and find the exit route and it was just behind where we started from.
The Arc de Triomphe is a beautiful Parisian staple. It is a really fun place to go if you want to see a beautiful view of Paris. Even if you don’t want to pay to climb to the top of the Arc, just getting off the metro stop and taking pictures of the Arc de Triomphe or walking to see the underside is a great, easy opportunity to see one of the classic sights in Paris.
- Packing Your Personal Carry-On
- Napoleon’s Tomb in Paris