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9 December 2015 / leggypeggy

Just what the times need—an Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Approaching the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

After the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris last month, I’ve been trying to figure out how to re-introduce all the wonders of this magnificent city and show people that Paris is still a top tourist destination.

I shouldn’t have agonised because I suddenly realised that the Arc de Triomphe is the perfect place to start.

This impressive monument, located at the end of the city’s famous Champs-Élysées, is a symbol of strength and resolve. Completed in the 1830s, the arch honours those who fought and died in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars.

Its full name is Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile (or Triumphal Arch of the Star). Twelve roads converge on this arch, creating a star-shaped intersection. Over the years, it has been a popular gathering point for marches, rallies, protests and ceremonies, especially annual events to honour the Unknown Soldier, who is buried at the base. It’s also a great place for a traffic jam.

Arc de Triomphe intersection

Arc de Triomphe intersection of 12 roads. Photo from

I remember my first ‘intimate’ encounter with the Arch. It wasn’t in 1975 when I first saw the Arch, but in 2003 when my dear friend, Maggie, and I travelled around the world together (that’s worth quite a few amusing posts).

Back then, Maggie and I were visiting Paris from Belgium and riding in a car with our first exchange student, Jean-Mi, and his mum, Milou, and sister. Aurélie. Milou was driving.

That woman has nerves of steel. You’d think she’d trained for the event. Milou approached the arch’s vast roundabout with white-knuckled resolve (but it was my knuckles that were white). We did go round more than once and then popped out on the right road to continue our journey. I was so impressed—and relieved.

Just so you know, we were on our way to a small hotel on Rue de Bitche. I think we chose it just so we could say we’d stayed on Bitch Street.

A bit more about the arch
Jean Chalgrin designed the arch in 1806. At 50 metres in height, it was the tallest triumphal arch in the world until a taller one was built in Mexico in 1938.

The exterior is covered in battle scenes, some showing nude French youths taking on bearded Germanic warriors. The names of French victories and generals are inscribed on the walls, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I lies at the base.

If you’re interested in even more detail, you can find it here.

Rosettes on the ceiling of the Arc de Triomphe

Rosettes on the ceiling

Inscriptions the Arc de Triomphe

Inscriptions the Arc de Triomphe

Two little challenges
We found two challenges when we visited the arch this year.

As I said before, the monument is in the centre of a huge roundabout—12 roads feed into it. You can drive round and round the arch, but it’s a little hard to get to the centre when you are on foot.

I’m still not sure how many times we walked around the perimeter, searching for one of the two underground passages that could take us to the centre. At last, we noticed that one intersection had a staircase (and a directional sign) down to the underpass to the monument.

The second challenge was to NOT be tempted by the promotion to join a queue (line) to see the monument.

Arc de Triomphe at 50 metres

You can go up to the top if you pay

Once you find your way underground, the advertising is very clever. ‘Join the queue and see the monument,’

Poor John and I wavered. Oh cripes, do you need to pay to see the Arc de Triomphe? That wasn’t the case when Maggie and I were there in 2003.

As it turns out, it’s still not the case. The pay-to-see option is for those who want to visit the top of the arch and look out over the city. But I have to say the promo is very compelling, and we very nearly bought tickets and asked questions later.

So if you get to the underground bit of the arch (and don’t want to go to the top), just keep walking around the circuit until you get to the sign that says to go upstairs here.

Arc de Triomphe sculptures

Arc de Triomphe sculptures

And a reminder 
Don’t live your life in fear. Get out and do things. Travel and live. Use common sense about where you go (that applies anywhere in the world).

Don’t be afraid of Muslims you see. They aren’t the extremists. They want what you want—enough money to live, jobs, a roof over their heads, food on the table, education for their children and to live peacefully with their neighbours.

It’s true in Paris and true almost everywhere else in the world. Sure there are exceptions, but they are few.



Leave a Comment
  1. ralietravels / Dec 10 2015 1:15 am

    Alie is not fond of any big city – any. But her reaction to the attacks was “we ought to visit Paris.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Dec 10 2015 8:25 am

      What a perfect attitude. I hope others have the same thought and do exactly that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yahooey / Dec 10 2015 2:21 am

    I’ve been in Paris for 18 years now and I still get a kick of driving around the Arch especially with visitors. Priority is to the right so I keep my eyes on the traffic coming from the right and drive.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Dec 10 2015 8:57 am

      I’ll remember that if I have to drive in Paris. Or can I catch a lift with you next time I’m there?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yahooey / Dec 10 2015 10:34 am

        As you might guess from my comment, it would be a pleasure to offer you a ride around the Arch. I might just let loose and go around twice.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Dec 10 2015 12:13 pm

        I’ll fasten my seatbelt! 🙂


  3. susan@marsha'sbungalow / Dec 10 2015 2:48 am

    If our efforts went to creating such intricate beauty, we wouldn’t have so much time to destroy things. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ganibey / Dec 10 2015 3:22 am

    very beautiful really. I like here.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Worlds Biggest Fridge Magnet / Dec 10 2015 4:44 am

    Wise words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 10 2015 8:32 am

      Thank you. One of our daughter’s lives in Paris. She says the mood of the city has become much more sombre.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Worlds Biggest Fridge Magnet / Dec 10 2015 10:09 am

        Such a shame. I think this will happen because of the sheer voracity of the attack. Time will heal. We must simply not lose sight of the problem and all pull together.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Dec 10 2015 12:33 pm

        It is a shame. And you are right, we need to pull together.


  6. Cryptic Garland / Dec 10 2015 7:45 am

    “Don’t be afraid of Muslims you see. They aren’t the extremists. They want what you want—enough money to live, jobs, a roof over their heads, food on the table, education for their children and to live peacefully with their neighbours.” Thanks Peg. ISIL will be destroyed when we refuse to let them destroy us.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Zambian Lady / Dec 10 2015 7:50 am

    Good to hear that you enjoyed your trip. My friend visited Paris a week after the attacks, loved it and said life had continued as if nothing catastrophic had happened. I think that is the way to go – continue living.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lynz Real Cooking / Dec 10 2015 9:17 am

    Wow Peggy you have done it all! Around the world? this is very interesting and 12 roads feed into this round about? I can’t imagine that! I love your story about the lady driving you around! Wonderful information and lovely pictures! It is so nice you share this world experience with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 10 2015 12:15 pm

      Oh thanks Lyn. We’ve had such a wonderful time travelling and I love sharing the stories.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lynz Real Cooking / Dec 10 2015 12:39 pm

        It is nice of you to share this with us!

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Dec 10 2015 12:47 pm

        My pleasure. I wanted to remind people that Paris is still worth visiting.


  9. Vicki / Dec 10 2015 9:26 am

    Thanks for the post about the Arc – I couldn’t remember it from my first trip to Paris in 1976, although I seem to have a photo from some distance away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 10 2015 12:17 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who forgets what they’ve seen, but has pictures as evidence.


  10. Ralph / Dec 10 2015 10:25 am

    I remember my Humans and I circumnavigating the thing a few times before the locals let us escape to a side road a month or so ago!


    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sheryl / Dec 10 2015 2:41 pm

    I enjoyed learning about the Arc de Triomphe. It’s a wonderful monument.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. badfish / Dec 10 2015 3:33 pm

    very nicely done, and great message at the end. I live in a Muslim country, I’m going to another Muslim country for Xmas. When I visited the Arch in…hmmm…1969, I had barely enough money for food, could not afford to climb to see the view from the top. I guess that means I must return!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 10 2015 4:24 pm

      Thanks. Enjoy your Christmas. I’ve lived and travelled in more Muslim countries than I can count. Have always been treated with respect and kindness. Christmas 2009 was in Syria where our first daughter was born in 1981. My heart breaks for Syria and the world’s lack of compassion for Muslims in general.

      Hope you get back to Paris soon. A repeat visit is highly recommended.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. wisreader / Dec 10 2015 6:03 pm

    “Don’t be afraid of Muslims. . .They want what you want what you want. . .”

    Such a simple concept, and so in need of repeating right now. Thank you for this reminder. It will help. Nice tribute to Paris, too; how lovely to have a daughter in residence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 10 2015 9:41 pm

      It’s amazing how people forget that most of us want the same things, with peace at the top of the list.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Andrew Petcher / Dec 10 2015 7:38 pm

    I love the Arc de Triomphe. I like climbing to the top and watching the traffic below. I am always convinced that there is going to be an almighty pile-up and am constantly amazed at how freely the traffic flows. I read somewhere that insurance companies don’t bother to investigate claims for accidents at the Arc de Triomphe they just pay up on a ‘shared fault’ basis.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 10 2015 9:47 pm

      Maybe next time I’ll climb to the top and wait for a collision. 🙂 Good that the insurance companies have figured out how to save time and angst.


  15. chattykerry / Dec 10 2015 9:08 pm

    Lovely shots and a thoughtful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. pagedogs / Dec 11 2015 12:22 am

    The only time I visited Paris was as a teenager in 1970. One of my most vivid memories is of running across traffic to get to the Arc. If there was a tunnel then, we didn’t know about it! A beautiful and thoughtful post Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 11 2015 6:42 am

      Yikes, I can’t even imagine trying to run through that traffic. Glad you are here to tell the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. simpletravelourway / Dec 11 2015 4:29 am

    Great post and appreciated both the white knuckle tale and the “live your life” message!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 11 2015 6:46 am

      Now that I think of it, most of us are careening through life with white knuckles ‘on the wheel’. I guess the aim is to hang on.


  18. Jane / Dec 11 2015 5:26 pm

    It probably sounds unusual but your post was the first time I have seen an aerial shot of the Arch. I really had no idea it was so huge and ornate. That’s a pretty impressive “round-a-bout.” I have enough trouble driving on the ones in Australia. 🙂 Thanks also for the good advice about getting to the centre without paying. It’s often tricky to be confident about these things when in a foreign country. Sellers can be so persuasive. The arch is indeed a great way to celebrate the strength and spirit of France during this time. Beautiful shots, Peggy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 11 2015 6:36 pm

      Thanks for enjoying the post, Jane. I figured an aerial shot (thanks to was the only way people could appreciate just how spread out the arch and encircling roundabout really are. It’s also quite a hike going around the outside to find the way in to the middle. And yes, I agree that it is an appropriate symbol of France’s strength and spirit.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Nandini / Dec 11 2015 5:31 pm

    Beautiful post and beautiful pictures Peggy 🙂


  20. Carol Ferenc / Dec 12 2015 8:50 am

    Great photos and fascinating information, Peggy. I’ve never been to Paris (although I would love to go) and I knew very little about the arch until now. Traffic circles can be intimidating and this one is a doozy! They’re fairly new here in the central U.S. and I laughed at your experience navigating the circle ~ it sounds all too familiar. White knuckles, indeed!


    • leggypeggy / Dec 12 2015 8:07 pm

      I love the word ‘doozy’ and it’s the perfect word to describe that roundabout. Thanks for making me smile.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Elouise / Dec 12 2015 9:09 am

    Hi, Peggy. This is lovely! Not just the photos and your comments about Paris after the attack, but also your bit about yourself and your husband. What an interesting life you’ve had and are still having! Thanks for the visit today. Life goes on. One day older and, hopefully, one day wiser.


    • leggypeggy / Dec 12 2015 8:06 pm

      Loved visiting your blog and will be back. Thanks for dropping by mine. We feel blessed to be able to travel so widely.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Elouise / Dec 13 2015 2:36 am

        I have to admit I felt a tinge of envy! The good kind, though–if there’s such a thing! We’ve done some traveling–but nothing like yours.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Dec 13 2015 3:20 pm

        I know what you mean about the good kind of envy. I have a tinge of envy in relation to people who can play an instrument or who have a beautiful singing voice. That sort of thing.


  22. lmo58 / Dec 12 2015 4:31 pm

    Hi Peggy,
    Great text and photos as always. The paras towards the end about being afraid of Muslim people is particularly apt at the moment and inspiring. Too many people are frightened about things about which they know nothing. Very frustrating that our former PM had to go around saying such things. At least we can now breathe a sigh of relief and say he’s our former PM!


    • leggypeggy / Dec 12 2015 8:04 pm

      The fact that he is our former PM is one of the best outcomes of 2015.


  23. thefeatheredsleep / Dec 13 2015 1:31 pm

    I felt this way staring at the names last time i want “home” to France and visited Paris. But as a Jew I also felt a stranger. I am very grateful for the supportive shelter of the USA. The bravery of what those who have fallen, died fighting for, must never be forgotten.


  24. skd / Dec 13 2015 10:00 pm

    What a beautiful post. And a thought provoking reminder.


    • leggypeggy / Dec 13 2015 10:02 pm

      Thanks so much. I think it’s an important reminder.


  25. milliethom / Dec 14 2015 8:34 am

    A wonderful post, Peggy, and a great tribute to Paris and the Parisians. It’s so important that tourists do not avoid this beautiful city now and, as you say, not be afraid of every Muslim they see. Oddly enough, I’ve been to several places in France but never to Paris. So I’m one of those who should aim for a visit there soon. Your photos are stunning, as are your informative and thought-provoking words.


    • leggypeggy / Dec 14 2015 10:14 am

      Thanks for dropping by. I hope you manage to get to Paris soon. It really is an amazing city.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Mithai Mumblezz / Dec 19 2015 1:52 pm

    Beautiful pics!!
    What happened in Paris is very sad and unfortunate. Very glad to see you made such a wonderful post upholding its beauty 🙂


  27. dougstuber / Dec 20 2015 1:57 pm

    Great Post.

    Christmas love
    spreads joyfully to
    friends, new and old, as
    natural as mountain streams
    flow under

    ice and snow
    still moving, to join.
    comes from sharing a
    round table. Buddha

    Jesus, Confucius,
    Abraham, Gandhi
    and Luther invite a pope
    to break bread

    under one God
    that all pray to here
    in Gwangju,
    there in Amsterdam,
    and Davao, where the

    hunt for food
    and water reverts to old
    ways, not the
    usual Christmas,
    but children scramble

    for goodies
    like coconuts, fruit, rare meat
    while we feast
    on turkey, baked so
    well, spring rolls folded

    and rolled by
    hands so delicate you can’t
    what they’ve done. Merry
    Christmas everyone.


  28. Rashminotes / Jan 31 2016 8:18 pm

    Very well written!


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