Monday, October 21, 2013

37. The Arc de Triomphe

It never ceases to amaze me to walk up out of the dark underground into the street and there in front of you is standing an architectural icon … and this is certainly one such occasion.
The Arc de Triomphe de l'√Čtoile is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. 

 
 
It stands 50 metres tall in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle (originally named Place de l'√Čtoile), at the western end of the Champs-Elysees. This is an extraordinarily busy roundabout servicing 12 streets !!! ... there are no lines marked on the road and several lanes of traffic whipping around the round-about - how anyone knows where they are going is quite beyond me ...
 
 


To get to it you certainly don’t try crossing over the street – far too dangerous – but we go underneath the road and through a tunnel and up and out at the base of the Arc. … and yes, to get to the top, you have to climb a very steep and arduous spiral staircase … don't know how many steps - probably a couple of hundreds I'd say ... but up once there, Paris is at your feet …




 

The Arc was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Emperor Napoleon at the peak of his fortunes. Laying the foundations alone took two years and the final construction finished in 1836.

 
 
The Arc honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces, and beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
 



 

After that bit of exercise it was time for lunch and a stroll down Av des Champs-Elysees – which is really just another smart tree-lined boulevard featuring all the glamorous rag-trade shops – not particularly interesting until you get to the very end and enter into a lovely big park – Jardin du Tuileries - and on into Place de la Concorde and onto the forecourt of the Louvre – and after that looooong walk – with a coffee break in the middle - it was home for this tourist ...
 


 

Hope you enjoyed that walk ... we'll do some art tomorrow ...