The Arc de Triomphe is an iconic French symbol and landmark that stands tall in the heart of Paris. This huge triumphal arch attracts people from around the world looking to admire the architecture, learn about a piece of Paris’ history, and take in the incredible city views from the top. Here are our main tips and need-to-know details for making a visit to this historical monument.
About the Arc de Triomphe
Let’s start with a little history. The Arc de Triomphe is a monument honoring the French army. Napoléon ordered its construction, architects Jean-François Thérèse Chalgrin and Jean-Arnaud Raymond drew up the plans, and building began in 1806. It took 30 years to complete and was inaugurated in July of 1836. Napoléon didn’t live to see its completion.
This massive arch was inspired by various works of ancient architecture, particularly the Roman Arch of Titus. It stands at 50 meters (164 feet) tall and features intricate detail, including engraved names of battles and French generals and sculpted groups on each of the pedestals depicting famous scenes like The Triumph of Napoleon and The Departure of the Volunteers. Under the arch sits the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI and the memorial Eternal Flame that is rekindled each night.
Getting to the Arc de Triomphe
A common way to reach the Arc de Triomphe is on foot because walking down Champs-Élysées is a popular activity for those wanting to experience the shops, bustling atmosphere, cafés, and restaurants in the area. We walked here from the Eiffel Tower, enjoying Champs-Élysées along our route to the arc.
But if you’re not planning to walk here, there are many buses and metro stations nearby. The closest one to the arc is the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile station served by metro lines 1, 2, and 6 and RER A. Bus lines 22, 30, 31, 52, 73, and 92 all stop nearby as well. Click here for maps showing the various lines and stops. Google Maps also has bus, metro, and RER stops pretty well marked.
Once near the Arc de Triomphe, take the underground pedestrian tunnel to cross under the circle to reach the base of the arc. The tunnel entrances are located at the end of Champs-Élysées where it meets Charles de Gaulle and on the opposite side of the arc from Champs-Élysées where Av. de la Grande Armée meets Charles de Gaulle. See the map below.
Don’t cross the roundabout to reach the arc. There are no crosswalks and we saw many drivers honking and yelling at tourists getting in the way of traffic when trying to cross. The pedestrian tunnel is a much safer way to reach the monument.
Hours & Regulations
You can admire the Arc de Triomphe anytime from its base or Champs-Élysées and the other surrounding avenues any time of day or night. But the monument itself can only be entered during operating hours.
- April 1st to September 30th: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- October 1st to March 31st: 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
- Last access to the monument is 45 minutes before closing
- Closed January 1st, May 1st, December 25th
- Reduced Hours May 8th, July 14th, November 11th
- Other events or extreme weather may cause additional closures – check the website for updated schedules.
Before you visit, note that there are no lockers to store belongings and the largest bag allowance is 40cm x 40cm x 20 cm (15.7in x 15.7in x 7.9in). You may not take strollers in, but you can leave them with the entrance staff. You will go through security and are not permitted to bring in glass bottles, weapons, sharp objects, motorcycle helmets, selfie sticks, or tripods.
As of mid-2023, wearing masks inside the monument is mandatory.
Arc de Triomphe Fees & Tickets
It is free to walk through the tunnel under the Arc de Triomphe and around the base of the arc. If you want to climb the steps to the viewing platform and see the displays inside the Arc de Triomphe, you need to obtain a ticket.
Tickets cost €13 payable by cash, card, or check. You can also book your tickets online. Visits are free for various groups, such as those under 18; disabled persons; those visiting on the first Sunday of January, February, March, November, and December; and more. Check the website to see if you are eligible for free admission and for more information on other rates.
Upon arrival, there is a line in the pedestrian tunnel for those needing to purchase a ticket. We recommend purchasing a ticket online in advance to skip the ticketing line. It could save you over an hour of waiting. If you have a ticket, bypass the ticket booth and head up the stairs to the security line. Even with a ticket, you still may be waiting for a long while.
Visit documents are available in several languages free of charge.
The 4 and 6-day Paris Passes with the Paris Museum Pass cover entry to the Arc de Triomphe. If you have the Paris Pass, just enter the line of those who already have a ticket and present the pass upon entry. Note that you will need to pick up your Paris Museum Pass once in Paris at the Big Bus Information Center near the Louvre before visiting the Arc de Triomphe.
Visiting the Arc de Triomphe
When to Visit
The best time to visit the Arc de Triomphe to avoid as many crowds is near opening. The most popular time to visit is later in the day to be able to watch sunset and the city light up as it gets dark out. The flame of the Unknown Soldier is also rekindled each evening under the arc at 6:30 p.m. The views are beautiful regardless of the time of day, but try to visit on a clear day so that they are not obstructed by clouds or smog.
We arrived at the Arc de Triomphe in the early evening on a Saturday in October and it was quite busy. But being there outside of peak season and having our Paris Pass, we waited for about 30 minutes to enter. The security line wound along the outside of the arc. We imagine it would get very hot waiting outside in the sun on a warm summer day, so bring water and sunscreen and dress accordingly.
Inside the Monument
Once we passed the security check, we began the climb up the 284 steps within the arc. Note that the elevators are only for those who are unable to walk up the stairs.
We first came to a large room with some informational displays and videos highlighting the history of the Arc de Triomphe. There is also a gift shop and information center there. We spent a little time learning about the Arc de Triomphe before heading up the remaining steps to the terrace.
The views over Paris from the terrace are truly beautiful with the 12 avenues lined with pretty buildings stretching out from around the Arc de Triomphe. In the distance, you can see some of Paris’ other iconic landmarks, like the Sacré-Coeur and the Eiffel Tower. The light was soft and warm as it neared sunset and some of the fall leaves beginning to change brightened.
We walked around the whole terrace to take in the views before heading back down to the base. It was perfect timing because the eternal flame was being rekindled under the arch. Before heading out for dinner, we took some time to admire the architecture and all of the details on the arc from ground level.
Other than the nightly rekindling of the eternal flame, there are other events that take place at and around the Arc de Triomphe, such as Fête Nationale in mid-July. See other upcoming events here.
Guided tours of the Arc de Triomphe are available for an extra cost as well. These are a good option if you’re looking to take a deeper dive into the history of the monument. You can book tours online through the official website for €20.
Otherwise, there are independent tour companies that include the Arc de Triomphe as part of their itinerary. Some of these can be found on Get Your Guide, Viator, and independent company sites.