Commissioned by Napoleon I in 1806, Arc de Triomphe celebrates the greatest times of the French military’s prowess.
Everybody falls in love with the amazing Parisian view from the observatory space at the top of this massive arc.
Almost two million tourists visit Arc de Triomphe every year.
In this article, we explain everything you need to know before you visit Arc de Triomphe.
What is Arc de Triomphe?
Inspired by the Arc of Titus in Rome, designed by Jean Chalgrin and commissioned to be built by Napoleon in 1806, Arc de Triomphe honors the sacrifices of the French army.
It represents the works of legendary artists such as Jean Chalgrin, Jean-Nicolas Huyot, Jean-Arnaud Raymond, Louis-Robert Goust and Guillaume-Abel Blouet.
Arc de Triomphe is the world’s second largest Arc. The first being the Arc in Pyongyang, North Korea. Find out more Arc de Triomphe facts
Where is Arc de Triomphe?
Arc de Triomphe stands at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, Paris.
How to reach Arc de Triomphe
Thanks to to amazing public transportation in Paris, it is very easy to get to Arc de Triomphe.
If you are taking the Paris Subway, opt for lines 1, 2 and 6 and get off at the Charles de Gaulle-Etoile station.
Réseau Express Régional (RER) is a hybrid suburban commuter system serving France, Paris and its suburbs.
RER’s Line A trains can help you get to the Charles de Étoile station, from where the Arc is just 100 meters (325 feet).
If bus is your preferred mode of travel, get on to Lines 22, 30, 31, 52, 73, 92 and Balabus.
If it is your first time in Paris, we recommend the bus because you get to see the city.
We don’t recommend arriving at Arc de Triomphe by car because driving in Paris is difficult, you may get caught in traffic, and once you reach you may not find a parking spot.
Arc de Triomphe hours
All through the year, Arc de Triomphe opens at 10 am.
However, its closing time changes once during the year.
1 April to 30 September
Opening time: 10 am
Closing time: 11 pm
Last entry: 10.15 pm
1 October to 31 March
Opening time: 10 am
Closing time: 10.30 pm
Last entry: 9.45 pm
The ticket counters close at the scheduled last entry.
The monument only admits a certain number of visitors.
As a result, when it reaches its peak capacity the ticket desks may close early.
When the ticket counter close early, entry to the Arc may be refused.
When is Arc de Triomphe closed?
Arc de Triomphe is closed on the following days –
1st January: New Year’s Eve
1st May: Labor Day
8th May: Victory 1945*
14th July: Bastille day
11th November: Armistice 1918*
25th December: Christmas
*Closed only in the morning
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Best time to visit Arc de Triomphe
The best time to visit the Arc is after 6:30 pm.
The peak time is over, the flame of the Unknown Soldier is lit and can be seen clearly against the night, and the Champs Elysées is all lit up.
During this time, one can also enjoy the best view of the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré Coeur and the Louvre from the observation deck at the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
However, most of the tourists land up at this attraction between 4.30 to 5.30 pm, to match their visit with the sunset.
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Is Arc de Triomphe free?
You can walk around the base and under the arches of the Arc de Triomphe without paying any fee.
Standing under the central arch, the monument seems even more massive.
On this free tour, you can read the names of the 660 Generals and observe the grand reliefs on the exterior.
But to go up the Arc de Triomphe and see amazing views of Paris, you need to buy the tickets.
Arc de Triomphe free entry
However, on special days it is possible to go up Arc de Triomphe without buying a ticket.
Entry to this massive monument is free on the 1st Sunday of every month from 1 January to 31 March and from 1 November to 31 December.
Admission to Arc de Triomphe is also free on the Saturdays and Sundays of the ‘European Heritage Days’ which is organized on the 3rd weekend of September.
The Arc de Triomphe also allows free entry to young people under 18 (with valid ID cards).
It is also free for EU citizens who are 18 to 25 years old.
If you don’t qualify for a free entry, we recommend you buy your Arc de Triomphe tickets and go up. The view will be worth it.
Free with Paris Passes
For a one time flat fee numerous discount cards help you access all the top Parisian attractions for free – including Arc de Triomphe.
With these Passes, besides saving money you also save time – thanks to the ‘skip the line’ entry at most places.
How long does visiting the Arc take?
In 15-20 minutes you can walk around Arc de Triomphe and explore everything there is to see.
However, if you plan to go up to the top during the peak hours you may need an hour.
Fifteen to 20 minutes to wait in the line, 15 minutes (on an average) to climb the 284 steps, 15 minutes to enjoy the view and another 10 minutes to climb down.
Your speed on the stairs is determined by your health, age and the crowd in front of you.
You can take an elevator to the mid-level and climb 64 stairs to the top, but the queue for the elevator is pretty long.
During non-peak hours a visit to the rooftop of Arc de Triomphe takes only 45 minutes.
Arc de Triomphe tickets
Two kinds of tickets can take you to the rooftop.
You can opt for the regular ‘skip the line’ ticket or book a guided tour with a local expert.
These tickets get delivered to your smartphone within five minutes of your purchase.
On the day of your visit, walk up to the entrance, show the ticket in your email (on your smartphone) and enter. No need to take printouts!
1. Skip the line rooftop tickets
These are the cheapest and the most popular tickets.
With these, you directly go to the stairs located on the right-hand side of the ticket office.
Once inside, you enter through the ‘reserved entry line’ after showing your ticket at the security check.
Adult ticket (for 18+ years): 12 Euros
*Kids below 18 years, EU citizens aged 18-25, disabled visitors with valid IDs and their carers enter for free.
2. Guided tour of Arc de Triomphe
With this ticket, besides skipping the long lines you also get to hear interesting stories and anecdotes from a local guide.
After the guide is done with their 90 minutes tour, you can continue to stay on the roof and enjoy the views for as long as you want.
Adult ticket (for 18+ years): 29.99 Euros
Youth ticket (for 10-17 years): 16 Euros
Kids (9 and below): Free entry
Arc de Triomphe – day or night?
Regardless of when you visit this monument, you will enjoy the historical beauty and mesmerizing view of Paris from the top.
If you can afford it (and if your legs can take the climb), we recommend you try this once during the day and once at night.
However, if you are short of time, visit Arc de Triomphe at night.
The pretty lights shimmering over the entire city is worth climbing all the stairs.
What to expect at night?
At night, the Eiffel tower seems incredibly close to Arc de Triomphe.
Twinkling and sparkling under the night sky, it is the prettiest sight on the Paris landscape.
The panoramic city view, dizzying traffic lights and the Champs Elysées can make Arc de Triomphe one of the best spots to see Paris at night
The Eternal flame too looks more beautiful and prominent at night.
It is not very crowded so you can take your time clicking photos.
View from Arc de Triomphe at night
Loved it, didn’t you? Book your Arc de Triomphe ticket!
Arc de Triomphe reviews
Tourists who have visited this Parisian attraction rave about the experience.
It isn’t for nothing that the Arc de Triomphe is rated highly on Tripadvisor.
Check out two of the reviews we found useful –
You need to walk towards The Arc De Triomphe from a distance to appreciate its presence. One of the ultimate venues to visit in Paris and take the time to walk to the top. You definitely won’t regret the effort of walking up the stairs. Enjoy. David R
Well this really is a gem. Everything written in English as well. You can get good photos from the outside of the roundabout, but pay the extra few Euro and go inside to see what it is really like.
If you go inside and up the top you will get amazing views of the Eiffel Tower and the roads leading up. The war memorial for the first world was beneath it is a moving monument, that in itself would be worth the trip. – Colin D, UK
FAQs on Arc de Triomphe
Tourists planning a visit to Arc de Triomphe often have these questions –
It was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon after his victory in Austerlitz.
However, after Napoleon’s abdication in 1814, the construction stopped for a few years, starting again in 1826.
It took 30 years to build the Arc de Triomphe and it was finally inaugurated in 1840.
Even though the Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, he didn’t finish it.
After his abdication in 1814, work on Arc de Triomphe was stopped.
The construction started again in 1826 and the final monument was completed under King Louis Phillipe, between 1833-36.
Arc de Triomphe stands at an overall height of 50 meters (164 feet).
Its larger vault is 29.19 meters (95.75 feet) high while the smaller transverse vaults are 18.68 meters (61.3 feet) high.
The Arc’s width is 45 meters (148 feet) and depth is 22 meters (72 feet).
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier lies buried under the Arc de Triomphe.
In 1916, during World War I, the Senate and deputies of France decided to honor one soldier to symbolize all those who died in battle for their country.
The soldier was buried on 10th November 1920 with the inscription ‘Here lies a French soldier who died for his fatherland 1914-1918.’
From the top of the Arc, all the top landmarks can be spotted, along with the wild traffic around the base.
The view down the three lined Champs-Élysées towards Place de la Concorde and Louvre museum is mesmerizing.
There are twelve streets opening out from Place Charles de Gaulle.
The Eiffel tower rises above the rooftops of Parisian buildings.
The tower of Montparnasse, twin towers of Notre Dame and the white Basilica of Sacré-Coeur are also visible in the distance.
There are 284 stairs in the Arc de Triomphe. They are circular and very narrow.
The 284 steps only get you to the gift shop/museum. There are an additional 40 steps to reach the observatory at the top.
For those less able, there is an elevator available but it doesn’t take you all the way to the top. You still must climb 64 additional steps.
The Arc de Triomphe round-a-bout is feared even by the insurance companies. There are twelve roads which lead to this round-a-bout.
It may get difficult to dodge the traffic in this area.
To avoid the traffic, take the stairs from the North side of Champs-Elysées that lead visitors to the tunnel that goes under the round-a-bout and delivers you straight to the base of the monument.
If you arrive by metro, get off at station Charles de Gaulle Etoile and follow the signs to the tunnel.