NileGuide Expert Says:
The Arc de Triomphe is the icon of France
Place Charles de Gaulle, Paris, France
01 55 37 73 77
NileGuide Expert tip:
The view down the Champs-Elysées from the top is even better by night than by day
The focus of all national celebrations in France, this 50m-high (164ft) arch was begun by Napoleon I after the battle of Austerlitz in 1806 and completed 30 years later by Louis-Philippe I, France's last reigning monarch. Its pillars are inscribed with the names of hundreds of French heroes and battles and it is now dedicated to the memory of an unknown soldier of the First World War. The eternal flame on his tomb here is re-lit at 18.30 (6.30pm) each evening. Climb the 284 steps to the mezzanine (the stairs are narrow and queues can be long) and you'll find an exhibition telling you all about it. Climb a few more stairs for a splendid view from the very top of the 12 avenues which give the area the name l'Étoile (the star), and see how the arch is set in a line with the place de la Concorde and the Arc du Triomphe du Carrousel du Louvre.