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Arc de Triomphe (triumphal arch) is one of the most iconic monuments in Paris. It was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, to celebrate French army victories. It took 30 years to complete, and Napoleon sadly never got to see the finished product. 

This amazing landmark is located in the middle of a traffic circle that connects 12 avenues, which forms the shape of a star (étoile). It’s hard to describe the magnitude of the arch, until you’re standing in front of it. It’s a whopping 164 feet tall (50 meters) and 148 feet (45 meters) wide.

Arc de Triomphe offers my favorite panoramic view of Paris, and it’s something you truly can’t miss while in Paris. Not only can you walk around it, but you can also buy tickets to see the view from the top of the Arc. Here’s a list of 6 things you should know before visiting Arc de Triomphe. These are all things that I genuinely find useful, especially after visiting myself.

1. Getting to Arc de Triomphe

You cannot simply walk over to Arc de Triomphe because it’s in the middle of a very busy roundabout. There’s no crosswalk to walk over to the Arc above ground. To access the Arc, you’ll have to use the underground entrance.

2. Buy Tickets Online in Advance

Buying tickets online will make your life easier and save you lots of time. If you don’t buy your ticket in advance, you’ll have to wait in a separate ticket booth line. This will add at least an hour to your total wait time, especially if you’re visiting in the summer during the busy season. I was shocked by how long the ticket line was, so I’m glad I bought my ticket in advance when I visited in July.

I bought my Arc de Triomphe ticket from GetYourGuide and paid $13.11 (in July 2022). The ticket was valid for the entire day I selected. Of course, you can also buy a ticket from the official website. Arc de Triomphe is open daily from 10:00am-10:30pm, so I decided to visit right when they opened. I was one of the first people in line, so I only had to wait for the security booth to open. I bought my ticket the night before, so I don’t believe you need to reserve it super far in advance.

Another option is to purchase The Paris Pass, which includes an Arc de Triomphe ticket. I’ll be writing another blog post about the Paris Pass and why I decided not to purchase one.

3. What a “Skip the Line” Ticket Really Means

When you buy an online ticket, it’s called a “skip the line” ticket. This means you’ll skip the ticket booth line, but you’ll still have to wait in the security line, before climbing the Arc de Triomphe. In other words, you don’t have a magical pass to skip everyone and bypass the security line (disappointing, I know). The last entry is 45 minutes before the Arc closes at 10:30pm, so keep this in mind when planning your visit.

4. Be Aware of Stairs

The climb to the top of Arc de Triomphe involves 284 stairs. You can’t take an elevator to the top, so this is something to be aware of. This is one of the reasons I wanted to backpack Europe in my 20’s, while I’m physically able to handle stairs, lots of walking, ect. However, I saw several elderly people climbing the stairs. They just needed to take frequent breaks on the way up.

5. Visit in the Morning or Evening

The view from Arc de Triomphe is great any time of day, but I recommend visiting at opening (to avoid lines) or in the evening for sunset. I visited Paris in July, so these times are best for beating the heat. If you enjoy taking photos, the morning and evening also offer ideal lighting for photography.

6. Avoid Restaurants Around Arc de Triomphe

The restaurants surrounding Arc de Triomphe are tourist traps. They are ridiculously overpriced for no reason, except that they’re by the Arc. I walked by several restaurants but decided to keep walking because I will not pay 20 euros for a veggie burger! Instead I found a grocery store and bought bread, hummus, veggies, orange juice, water, and soda for just 12 euros.

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