Sunday, May 29, 2011

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is one of Paris’s most iconic images. My first experience with it was the first night I arrived in Paris. It was pushing 1 am and technically I was lost but perfectly calm.  I was following two helpful Parisians, who were helping me to get to my final destination of the night. When I exited the bus I was taking I was surprised to see the Arch presented to me in all its glory. Lit up and grand, I was blown away by its size.

In 1806, just after the Battle of Austerlitz,  Napoleon I declared to his soldiers, “you will march home through arches of victory.” To indulge his liking of Ancient Rome he called for the monument to be built to dominate Paris. The architects Chalgrin and Raymond took their inspiration from the Arch of Titus in Rome. The massive monument was constructed between the years of 1806 and 1836.

In 1916 the idea arose to use the Arc De Triomphe as a site to honor one solider, the unknown solider, and to symbolize all those who died for their country during the First World War. The unknown solider was laid to rest  beneath the Arch in 1921. The flame of remembrance was lit November 11, 1923 and has never gone out since.
The Arch sits on a piece of land, completely for it, in the middle of a traffic circle with roads jetting out from many points. Getting from point A to point B around the Arch takes some time. You must slowly go around the circle waiting at cross walks while crossing each road. The traffic in the circle  is chaotic but I’m sure Parisians know what they are doing.

When Cynthia and I took the time to go to the Arch with the intention of going up I quickly realized that there must be some secret passage way  underground to get there. After some time we found it and we were on our way to stand below the Arch. The elevator was out so we know we would be climbing lots of stairs just like we did when we visited the Catacombs. Once we reached the entrance we started to climb the large stairs. There are different floors to stop off at and admire the history of the building of the Arch.  Once we got to the observation deck we got toe see a view of Paris from above. The Eiffel Tower was in view on one side as well as the busy streets below.

Obviously this last image isn't mine because I didn't bring my helicopter to Paris!