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No pain…no gain. The gain at this site is in altitude. The pain refers to the 284 steps which get you to the top of the Arc De Triomphe.

It sounds rugged, but worth the effort. It really is quite a thrill to be standing on top of the Arc de Triomphe. Masterminded by Napoleon Bonaparte, this sensational monument was meant to celebrate his military victories, his conquests, his greatness, his self-proclaimed right to be the Emperor of France.

Napoleon must have been in very high spirits when he commissioned the Arc to be built. It was the year 1806 and he was still fresh from his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, considered to be a stroke of military genius. Two years passed, however, and building was progressing very slowly…so slowly in fact, that in 1810, on the day of his marriage to Marie-Louise of Austria, an unusual accommodation was necessary. The bridal procession was supposed to parade through the Arc on their way to the wedding ceremony at the Louvre. Unfortunately, very little construction had been completed, and a large replica of the structure was erected on the spot, for the Emperor and his second wife (Josephine had been divorced due to her inability to conceive) to pass through.

The Arc de Triomphe was finally completed in 1836, 21 years after Napoleon’s death, and it has had a very colorful history. When the Allied Forces liberated Paris at the end of WWII, they marched right between the two columns, all the way down the Champs Elysees. What an amazing sight!

Now that you have clambered up to the top, enjoy the view.

Twelve broad avenues radiate outwards, as part of Baron Haussmann’s plan for the modernization of Paris.

Like the spokes of a wheel, the “Etoile”, as it’s called, is a sight to behold.

Place Charles De Gaulle
8th Arrondisement
Metro: Charles De Gaulle-Etoile
Hours: Approx. 10am-10pm daily
Entrance to Monument Via Underground
Pass on Champs Elysees

The architecture of Paris is remarkably charming when viewed from above. Rooftops are as interesting as facades. Dormer windows, skylights and terraces are punctuated by chimney tops. Slate and iron, stone and brick, yield to mullioned glass. The shuttered windows of Winter, with their flowerless window-boxes, are thrown wide open in summer and planted with red geraniums. From above it appears to be a city yearning for light, capturing it in every conceivable way. Maybe you already have a favorite vantage point, but there are a few fabulous ways to get above it all.

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