The Arc de Triomphe is dedicated to the victorious French armies of the Revolution and the First Empire. Napoleon ordered the building of this mighty structure in 1806 but did not live to see its completion in 1836. Designed by JF Chalgrin, the arch features reliefs with larger-than-life-size figures, which depict the departure, victories, and glorious return of the French armies. Particularly noteworthy is the relief by François Rude on the Champs-Elysées front, Departure of the Volunteers of 1792, also known as The Marseillaise, illustrating the troops setting out, led by the winged spirit of Liberty. On the inner surface of the arch are the names of more than 660 generals and more than a hundred battles.
From the viewing platform, there are panoramic views of the 12 avenues, which radiate from the Place de l’Etoile, including the route from the Champs-Elysées to Place de la Concorde and theLouvre. It’s possible to see all the way to La Défense, Montmartre, and the Eiffel Tower.
At the foot of the Arc de Triomphe is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, dedicated in 1921 as a memorial to the dead of World War I. Every evening at 6:30pm, a small delegation of soldiers rekindle the flame at the tomb, and every year on November 11, the anniversary of the Armistice of 1918, there are ceremonies commemorating those who perished in both world wars.