Iconic, imposing, and beautiful, there’s no doubt that visiting the Arc de Triomphe is one of the best things to do in Paris, whether or not you choose to climb to the top!
We’ve been lucky enough to visit the monument enough times that we’ve stopped keeping count, and have had the chance to climb the Arc de Triomphe twice.
From how to get Arc de Triomphe tickets to what exactly you’ll find inside the monument, we’ve covered all the ins and outs of visiting the most famous triumphal arch in the world in this travel guide.
If you’re planning a trip to Paris soon and are hoping to visit the Arc de Triomphe (or even if you’re wondering if it’s worth it), here’s what to know before you go!
A (Very) Brief History of the Arc de Triomphe
While the Arc de Triomphe (technically named the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile) feels like an indispensable and eternal feature of Paris today, when measured by the length of the city’s history, it’s actually a fairly new structure!
Designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1806, the arch was conceived as a way to honor those who fought and died in both the French Revolution and the later Napoleonic wars.
While Paris’ Arc de Triomphe was inspired by the Arch of Titus in Rome, it’s safe to say that many other triumphal arches built since, from Mexico City to Vientiane and beyond, were inspired at least in part by the French monument.
Situated at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, which was at the time named Place de l’Étoile in honor of the “star” formation of 12 avenues that the Arc de Triomphe sits in the center of, the arch was always intended to be a dominant architectural feature of the area.
Once construction was underway, the monument was built in fits and bursts, and the arch was finally officially opened on July 29, 1836.
Since the completion of the Arc de Triomphe, many military victories–both French and otherwise–have been celebrated underneath the arch.
Today, the Arc de Triomphe is the starting point for the annual Bastille Military Parade down the Champs-Élysées on July 14 each year (the parade ends at the Place de la Concorde).
How to Visit the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
When it comes to visiting the Arc de Triomphe, you have a couple of options.
You can visit the exterior for free, or you can buy a ticket to go inside and climb the Arc de Triomphe to enjoy the views from the top.
Here’s what to expect from each section of the monument!
Visiting the Exterior + Underneath the Arc de Triomphe
Before strolling underneath the Arc de Triomphe, be sure to get views from across the street!
Admiring the Arc de Triomphe from along the edge of the Place Charles de Gaulle, with its bustling traffic, is a classic Paris travel experience.
For a dead-on view of the arch from further away, standing on the median in the center of the Champs-Élysées (or for a less crowded option, the Avenue de la Grande Armée on the opposite side of the arch) is beautiful, though be very careful and make sure not to impede traffic!
We took the photo at the top of this blog post from the center of the Champs-Élysées.
Once you have enjoyed views from beyond the roundabout that surrounds the arch, it’s time to slip underground and reemerge again right next to it (don’t try to cross traffic here–always use the underground passage).
In the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, you can walk right up next to the monument and admire its art in incredible detail.
You’ll also be able to walk underneath the Arc de Triomphe–don’t forget to look up!
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is also here, and its flame is rekindled at 6:30 PM each evening.
All of the views of the Arc de Triomphe covered in this section, including walking underneath the arch, are free to visit.
You don’t have to pay to see the Arc de Triomphe–only climbing the Arc de Triomphe requires a ticket!
Inside the Arc de Triomphe
The inside of the Arc de Triomphe is fairly plain and practical, and it is primarily dominated by the climb.
In other words, you wouldn’t buy a ticket just to get inside, the ticket price is for the view!
However, there are two places where you can take a break from the climb and poke around the interior of the Arc de Triomphe.
On the first level that you’ll come to, you’ll see a few pieces of art that were once displayed on the monument before being moved inside.
You’ll also see a window built into the floor where you can look down and see visitors moving under the monument, which is cool to see!
On the next level up, you’ll find toilets, a gift shop, and more information about the monument.
View From the Top of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe
The view from the roof of the Arc de Triomphe is fantastic and well worth the climb to the top!
The rooftop has excellent views of the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées, La Defense, and more.
It even has a gorgeous view of Montmartre, with Sacré Coeur standing tall in the distance.
Apart from the famous attractions you can see, generally observing Parisian life from above is lots of fun, too, including peeking at all of the stunning rooftop terraces you can see on top of the luxurious buildings that surround the arch.
Watching the traffic move around the city from high above is a bit mesmerizing, too!
One drawback of the view from the Arc de Triomphe rooftop is that due to the large metal spikes installed around the edge for safety, it can be a bit difficult to get excellent photos of people on the arch.
Unfortunately, you’ll almost always have a bit of metal in the shot with you.
Book tickets to climb the Arc de Triomphe in Paris today!
FAQ for Visiting the Arc de Triomphe
Is the Arc de Triomphe worth visiting?
Yes, it absolutely is!
Visiting the Arc de Triomphe from the ground level (either from across the street, directly underneath the arch, or both) is free to everyone and a must-see attraction in Paris.
The detail on the monument is astounding up close, and visiting it for the first time is definitely one of those “watching postcards come to life” travel moments!
Whether or not it’s worth climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and visiting the inside is a different question.
The view from the Arc de Triomphe rooftop is incredible and easily ranks among our top 3 rooftop views in Paris (especially now that Notre Dame is no longer an option).
In that sense, it’s definitely worth visiting the Arc de Triomphe.
However, if you’re like most visitors, odds are that you only have a few days in Paris or so to sample the best of the city.
I would avoid going up to every viewpoint if that is the case, and only choose 1-2 between spots like the Arc de Triomphe, Sacré Coeur, Montparnasse Tower, the Eiffel Tower, etc.
If you have your heart set on a couple of different views already, you can consider only visiting the base of the Arc de Triomphe.
How do you get tickets for the Arc de Triomphe?
The easiest and best way to get tickets to the Arc de Triomphe is to buy them online in advance.
There is NO additional charge for “skip the line” tickets, and buying in advance will allow you to bypass the long ticket lines!
During our most recent visit to the arch in November 2022, I was shocked by the number of people lined up to buy tickets in person when they could have easily bought tickets on their phones and headed upstairs much faster!
If for some reason you would prefer to buy tickets to the Arc de Triomphe in person (such as if you’d like to pay cash, for example), the counter is underground as you walk toward the arch.
How much does it cost to visit Paris’ Arc de Triomphe?
Standard tickets to visit the Arc de Triomphe are currently 13 Euro, and purchasing your ticket in advance will allow you to skip the (long) ticket lines with no additional charge.
Certain travelers, such as EU citizens between the ages of 18-25, can visit for free.
Note that you only have to pay to visit the inside and rooftop of the Arc de Triomphe, walking underneath the arch and visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is free for everyone.
Are the lines long at the Arc de Triomphe?
Yes, they can be!
There are two separate lines to climb the Arc de Triomphe.
First, there’s the ticket line located underground, which you can skip by purchasing your tickets in advance.
Second, there’s the security line found at the base of the arch, which you’ll need to wait in before starting to climb the Arc de Triomphe.
Because this second line is for security purposes, you cannot skip it, but it does move fairly quickly.
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How many steps is it to the top of the Arc de Triomphe?
To climb the Arc de Triomphe, you’ll need to climb 284 steps to the top, mostly organized in a tight spiral.
There are a couple of breaks at different levels as you climb, where you can see some art, learn more about the history of the arch, go to the restroom, and even shop for souvenirs from Paris.
Where is the Arc de Triomphe in Paris?
The Arc de Triomphe is famously located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées and is part of the 8th arrondissement in Paris.
More specifically, it’s located at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, which was formerly named Place de l’Étoile.
How old is the Arc de Triomphe?
Construction started on the Arc de Triomphe in 1806.
The monument was officially opened after the completion of construction in 1836, though by some counts the structure was technically completed before this point.
Does the Arc de Triomphe rooftop have one of the best views of Paris?
This is a matter of opinion, of course, but we think so!
We’d definitely rank the view from the Arc de Triomphe rooftop as one of the top 3 viewpoints we’ve experienced in Paris (especially when excluding Notre Dame due to its indefinite closure).
What attractions are close to the monument?
While the Arc de Triomphe is definitely worth visiting, it is set slightly further apart from many of the most popular attractions in Paris than sights like the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre are.
The closest major attraction to the Arc de Triomphe is, of course, the Champs-Élysées, which dead-ends into Place Charles de Gaulle.
By strolling down the Champs-Élysées, you can be at the Jardin des Tuileries in about 35-40 minutes, with possible detours to spots like the Pont Alexander III along the way.
From Tuileries, you’ll have many of Paris’ top things to do at your fingertips, including the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay.
Trocadero, with its famous views of the Eiffel Tower, is about a 25-minute walk away.
You can walk from the Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower itself in about 30 minutes.
Of course, you don’t need to walk anywhere from the Arc de Triomphe at all if you don’t want to (though walking through Paris is almost always a delight)!
The Arc de Triomphe is extremely well-connected by metro, and you can easily navigate to anywhere in the city from there.
Is there an elevator to the top of the Arc de Triomphe?
Yes, but it is reserved for travelers who require it (the elderly, people with disabilities, who are pregnant, etc.).
Keep in mind that the elevator only goes most of the way up the arch, travelers who use it will still need to climb an additional 64 steps to the top.
Are there toilets at the Arc de Triomphe?
Yes, there are!
There are toilets inside the Arc de Triomphe, and you can access them either during the climb up or down.
They are free to use (if you’re curious, you can read our guide to toilets in Europe here).
How tall is the Arc de Triomphe?
While imposing and dramatic, the monument is not necessarily as tall as you might think!
The Arc de Triomphe measures 164 feet (about 50 meters) high and 148 feet (about 45 meters) wide.
How to Get to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France
By far the easiest way to get to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris is by metro.
The closest metro station to the monument is the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile station which is connected to the 1, 4, and 6 lines, plus the RER A line.
This station is expansive and provides direct access to the Arc de Triomphe.
Just follow the many signs for “Arc de Triomphe” and you’ll be climbing upstairs to start your Arc de Triomphe visit in no time!
Buy your tickets to visit the Arc de Triomphe in Paris today!