25 photos

The construction of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris was ordered in 1806 by Napoleon, the French Emperor, who wanted to honor the Grande Armée, the name of the French army at that time. The Grande Armée had conquered most of Europe and was then considered invincible. After his Austerlitz victory in 1805, Napoleon said to his soldiers : "You will return home through arches of triumph". The construction was stopped between 1814 (abdication of Napoleon) and 1826. The names of 128 battles of the first French Republic and Napoleon's Empire are written on the white walls under the vault together with the names of the generals who took part in them. The construction of the Arc de Triomphe was completed in 1836, long after Napoleon's death in 1821.

Enroute back to Paris from our tour of western and southern France we caught the high speed (it really did hit 300+ km per hour) TGV train in Poitiers.

Enroute back to Paris from our tour of western and southern France we caught the high speed (it really did hit 300+ km per hour) TGV train in Poitiers.

View of Basilique du Sacré-Cœur often simply Sacré-Cœur on Montmartre from our hotel room in the Pullman Montparnasse. It is the highest point in Paris.

View of Basilique du Sacré-Cœur often simply Sacré-Cœur on Montmartre from our hotel room in the Pullman Montparnasse. It is the highest point in Paris.

Statue of Marshal Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre in front of Ecole Militaire. He regrouped retreating allied armies to defeat Germans at decisive First Battle of the Marne in 1914.

Statue of Marshal Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre in front of Ecole Militaire.  He regrouped retreating allied armies to defeat Germans at decisive First Battle of the Marne in 1914.

View of the Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower from just in front of the Ecole Militaire but past the modernistic pavilion of sorts.

View of the Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower from just in front of the Ecole Militaire but past the modernistic pavilion of sorts.

View of the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile as seen from the northwest walking along the Avenue de la Grande Armée.

View of the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile as seen from the northwest walking along the Avenue de la Grande Armée.

Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile decorative panels in the ceiling of the arch.

Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile decorative panels in the ceiling of the arch.

Jim standing near the tomb of the unknown soldier. In ca. May 1945 his father, who was a pilot in WWII, was photographed standing close to where Jim is in this image.

Jim standing near the tomb of the unknown soldier.  In ca. May 1945 his father, who was a pilot in WWII, was photographed standing close to where Jim is in this image.

Arc de Triomphe the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. It burns in memory of the dead who were never identified (now from both world wars).

Arc de Triomphe the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.  It burns in memory of the dead who were never identified (now from both world wars).

La Marsellaise (Departure of the Volunteers) on the northeast pillar. The sculpture represents the Genius of Liberty as a winged female emitting a cry of warning in the face of enemy invasion.

La Marsellaise (Departure of the Volunteers) on the northeast pillar.  The sculpture represents the Genius of Liberty as a winged female emitting a cry of warning in the face of enemy invasion.

La Paix (Peace), on the northwest pillar. The sculpture represents the return of peace after the Treaty of Paris in 1815 which ended Napoléon's attempt to return to power during the One Hundred Days.

La Paix (Peace), on the northwest pillar. The sculpture represents the return of peace after the Treaty of Paris in 1815 which ended Napoléon's attempt to return to power during the One Hundred Days.

Le Triomphe de 1810 (The Triumph of 1810), on the southeast pillar. The sculpture depicts Napoléon, crowned by Victory, in antique vestments pressing a sword against his chest.

Le Triomphe de 1810 (The Triumph of 1810), on the southeast pillar.  The sculpture depicts Napoléon, crowned by Victory, in antique vestments pressing a sword against his chest.

La Résistance (The Resistance), on the southwest pillar. The sculpture symbolizes the Nation's resistance in 1814 when faced with the invasion of foreign forces united against Napoléon.

La Résistance (The Resistance), on the southwest pillar.  The sculpture symbolizes the Nation's resistance in 1814 when faced with the invasion of foreign forces united against Napoléon.

Top of the Eiffel Tower as seen thru the rain from the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile.

Top of the Eiffel Tower as seen thru the rain from the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile.

View of the Arc de Triomphe from outside the restaurant where our tour group ate supper on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The top is now partially visible.

View of the Arc de Triomphe from outside the restaurant where our tour group ate supper on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.  The top is now partially visible.

Looking northwest from top of the Tour Maine-Montparnasse at the Eiffel Tower and the Parc du Champ-de-Mars. In middle distance the continuous band of "green" marks the course of the Seine River.

Looking northwest from top of the Tour Maine-Montparnasse at the Eiffel Tower and the Parc du Champ-de-Mars.  In middle distance the continuous band of "green" marks the course of the Seine River.

Looking NNW from top of Maine-Montparnasse at Eiffel Tower; on right gold dome of Napoleon's Tomb flanked by L'Hôtel National des Invalides. Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile is visible in the distance.

Looking NNW from top of Maine-Montparnasse at Eiffel Tower; on right gold dome of Napoleon's Tomb flanked by L'Hôtel National des Invalides. Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile is visible in the distance.

Looking NW from top of Maine-Montparnasse at Eiffel Tower and Parc du Champ-de-Mars. The Maine-Montparnasse Tower is the tallest building in Paris.

Looking NW from top of Maine-Montparnasse at Eiffel Tower and Parc du Champ-de-Mars.  The Maine-Montparnasse Tower is the tallest building in Paris.

NNW from Tower closer view of gold dome - Napoleon's Tomb. Tower was so controversial that 2 years after completed new buildings over 7 stories high in city center were banned.

NNW from Tower closer view of gold dome - Napoleon's Tomb. Tower was so controversial that 2 years after completed new buildings over 7 stories high in city center were banned.

NNE from the top of Maine-Montparnasse at Church of Saint-Sulpice begun in 1646 but not completed until the late 1700s. View is much better and less crowded than from the Eiffel Tower.

NNE from the top of Maine-Montparnasse at Church of Saint-Sulpice begun in 1646 but not completed until the late 1700s.  View is much better and less crowded than from the Eiffel Tower.

North from top of Tour Maine-Montparnasse east end of roof of Musée d'Orsay (whiteish building with a spire) visible on left about 1/3 of the way up. In distant top center is Basilique du Sacré-Cœur.

North from top of Tour Maine-Montparnasse east end of roof of Musée d'Orsay (whiteish building with a spire) visible on left about 1/3 of the way up. In distant top center is Basilique du Sacré-Cœur.