10 things to know before visiting the Arc de Triomphe

There are two things symbolic of Paris: The Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc was commissioned by Napoleon I after his first victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 and to this day is the largest and best-known memorial monument in the world.

The Arc de Triomphe sits on Place Charles de Gaulle, a crossroads that was previously known as Place de l’Etoile. The Arc stands in the center from which 12 straight avenues radiate, including the Champs-Élysées, giving the junction with the mighty Arc de Triomphe at its center the illusion of a star, French for a star.

Naturally, the Arc welcomes thousands of visitors every day. In 2017, it was the most visited cultural site in Paris, and there are several things people visiting the Arc would like to know before they go. If a trip to the Arc de Triomphe is planned anytime soon, here’s what you need to know before visiting the iconic Paris landmark.

ten Buying tickets online saves time

As is the case with most attractions in Europe, Arc de Triomphe tickets can be purchased in advance online. Tickets are free for under 18s or 18-25 year olds residing in the EU. For everyone else, tickets to visit the Arc de Triomphe cost 13 euros, and for anyone who wants a guided tour, it’s 20 euros. Those who don’t have the ability to book in advance can still purchase tickets at the door, but don’t be surprised if the ticket line stretches for hours.

9 The truth about skip-the-line tickets

The Arc de Triomphe calls its online tickets “skip the line” passes. It’s easy to assume that this means anyone who has pre-booked their tickets online can walk past all the busy queues waiting to enter the Arc de Triomphe. But this is not the case. “Skip the queue” simply means that you skip the queue outside the ticket office because you already have yours. This does not mean that you can also bypass security. Visitors with online tickets will still have to wait in line for a security check, and unfortunately there is no fast-track pass for this.

8 You can’t just cross and walk to the Arc de Triomphe

If you’re in Paris, chances are you’ll see the Arc de Triomphe from miles away. But what most tourists don’t realize is that you can’t get there on foot. The Arc de Triomphe sits on a busy crossroads that connects the city’s 12 main avenues, including the Champs-Élysées. So if you’re out there looking for a level crossing at the junction, you won’t find one. Instead, visitors should head to the north side of the Champs-Élysées, where an underground tunnel from Place Charles de Gaulle will take you to the other side and bump under the Arc de Triomphe.

Related: A guide to visiting the Arc de Triomphe (and how to get inside)

seven You can climb the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is 164 feet high and 148 feet wide. As such, just looking at the Arc de Triomphe can take your breath away. Additionally, it also helps that the floor level of the Arc is completely free. Visitors can walk around the Arc de Triomphe, stroll under the central arch, look at the sculptures and take in the names of 660 war generals who fought in the battle and whose names are inscribed on the Arc. But the Arc de Triomphe experience doesn’t stop there as you can also climb to the top of the Arc!

6 …but there are no elevators

The top of the Arc de Triomphe offers stunning views of Paris and the 12th Avenue crossroads below – a sight in itself worthy of visitors buying a ticket to the top. Those atop the Arc de Triomphe will also be able to catch a glimpse of the city’s most beloved landmarks, including the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower, and the tree-lined Champs-Élysées. But there’s a price to pay: visitors must be prepared to climb more than 280 steps for stunning views of Paris. Although there is an elevator inside the Arc, it is reserved for pregnant women, women with reduced mobility or with young children. Everyone else will just have to lace up their walking shoes and get ready for a short hike.

5 There is a museum inside the Arc de Triomphe

Those who assume that the only things inside the Arc de Triomphe are the 280 steps that take people to the top are dead wrong. Sitting inside the walls of the gigantic monument is a small museum one level below the observation deck that most visitors often miss. The museum presents the history of the Arc de Triomphe, retracing its journey from construction in the early 19th century to the 21st century through several interactive exhibits. This is an important step for anyone who wants to know a little more about the monument they are in.

Related: The best museums to visit in Paris (that are worth admission)

4 You can download an online guide

While the Arc de Triomphe offers tickets for guided tours of the monument – not to mention several other independent agencies that run guided tours – you don’t necessarily need to buy one to learn more about the Arc. . The official Arc de Triomphe website offers a downloadable online guide in several languages. With the two-page guide, visitors will know all the basics of the Arc de Triomphe, including the essentials of its history and the many architectural elements that make up the Arc.

3 The Arc de Triomphe is not always crowded

It is undeniable that the Arc de Triomphe is extremely busy, especially in summer. But if you plan ahead and organize your schedule, there are a few time slots in the day when the Arc is quite sparse on visitors. The Arc de Triomphe is open from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and the busiest times tend to be in the afternoons. The two hours before the Arc closes also tend to attract long lines of visitors hoping to see Paris from the top of the Arc as it lights up. Those hoping to avoid the queues may consider visiting the Arc de Triomphe on weekdays. Alternatively, the Arc is also uncrowded by early morning tourists when it opens.

2 Consider staying for the revival ceremony

While work on the Arc de Triomphe was completed in 1836, it was not until World War I that it was decided that the flame at the base of the Arc, where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, would be revived every day. Since then, every evening at 6:30 p.m., veterans have marched to the inner flame and laid wreaths around it in honor of the Unknown Soldier and all those who died in battle. Those wishing to view the wake-up ceremony at dusk are welcome to find their place at the Arc at 6.20pm – either from the ground or the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

1 The restaurants around the Arc de Triomphe will rip you off

There is one major rule in travel that separates a tourist from a seasoned traveler. Tourists tend to shell out big bucks at nearby restaurants to spend a few extra minutes dining in the shade of an attraction. Seasoned travelers, on the other hand, know that restaurants near top-rated attractions are nothing but expensive tourist traps and tourist traps. The Arc de Triomphe is no different, as restaurants around the Arc whip up expensive bills for mediocre food at best. It also doesn’t help that the Arc De Triomphe is located in one of the most expensive areas of Paris, so if you’re planning a budget trip, you might want to avoid the restaurants near the Arc. and look for street carts selling hot pancake food instead.