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Prissy Mag Editor and Founder Priscilla Lalisse-Jespersen started her Through My Eyes column at Paris Woman Journal in 2003. Here, she continues to share her personal experiences about life in the City of Lights.

The View from the Arc de Triomphe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Priscilla Lalisse-Jespersen   


If you really want a gorgeous panoramic view of Paris, then how about climbing up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe? I would highly recommend it and always do to visiting friends. In my humble opinion, it’s much better and faster to access than waiting in line for an elevetator to take you to the top of the Eiffel Tower (that is, if you’re only going to the top for the view). From the Arc’s observation deck you can see up the Champs-Elysées along with other famous landmarks such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Coeur, and La Défense.

We took a stroll over there one weekend in February and it's still impressive-- every time you see it.  Rightly so: The Arc de Triomphe is the biggest triumphal arch in the world, about 49m (161 ft.) high and 44m (144 ft.) wide. Napoleon I ordered the construction of the Arc de Triomphe to honor the Grande Armée, which won the battle of Austerlitz in 1806. The monument was designed by a French architect Jean Chalgrin, in 1806, largely inspired by the Arch of Titus, a marble triumphal arch in Rome. Although it was ordered by Napoleon I, the construction of the monument was completed in 1836 during the reign of Louis-Philippe, 15 years after his death. There have been many famous and infamous people to pass under the Arc (French troops, German troops, Victor Hugo, Ferdinand Foch, Eisehower). It's also said that after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, his wife Jackie Kennedy requested that an eternal flame, like the one present on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc, be placed next to her husband's grave.


How to get there: The Arc is at the centre of a pentagon-shaped configuration of twelve avenues and that is why you should NEVER try to cross traffic to get to it! Every year I witness people trying to play a deadly game of human frogger in order to get there. Don’t! Never worry, once you get off the metro at Charles de Gaulle, there is an underground passage that will take you to the entrance. The entry rate is €9 for adults and €5.50 for concessions.  It is usually very quick to get to the top; there are hardly ever any queues. In fact, getting to the top simply depends on how fast your legs will carry you. There is an elevator available but only for people who "need" it. When the ticket lady asked us if we were the ones going up, she did take notice of our feet.  Seriously. They seem to be stingy on the elevator, but hey, that's okay. We wanted and expected to walk up. To get to the top, you should know there are 284 steps! Not a bad day’s walk and it's actually quite fun.


I've always had the pleasure of chatting with new folks on the way, believe it or not. You end up forming a bond with people who are breathing as hard as you are. You'll find some who stop to let you pass, others who seem to be in a race with you, and sArc- Exhibition till others sitting on the stairs waiting it out a bit. Once you do get to the top, you can admire the exhibition hall with lithogaphs and photos of the Arc’s history. Of course, the observation deck will take your breath away and make the winding staircase journey up there worth it ! And when you want to leave—just go back down the way you came, no waiting for pesky elevators.

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Priscilla Lalisse-Jespersen moved to Paris from New York City in 1999. In addition to being the Editor and Founder of Prissy Mag, she is the author of the novel Stockdale and the new non-fiction book Next of Kin. For her complete bio, please visit our Team Page or check out her Author site.


Comments (5)add comment
Karen Hubert: ...
Very great article. I will take this advice. One last thing the pictures are so gorgeous Prissy.

February 28, 2011
I remember drving round it with what must be the most nightmarish 'roundabout' ever! - pick a lane, and hope for the best!

March 07, 2011
Jose: ...
me love the view from the top

April 20, 2011
Sexy : ...
Very dood

April 28, 2013
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