L’Arc de Triomphe, which stands in the centre of La Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of Le Champs Élysée, is one of the great Parisian icons.
Built in 1806 to honour the great victories of Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies, it was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus.
Over the last two centuries, the arch has become a memorial to all who have fought and died for France; the names of battles and Generals are inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces, beneath its vault lies the tomb of the unknown soldier from World War I and at its foot, surrounded always by wreaths and tributes, burns the eternal flame.
Four sculptures decorate the base of L’Arc de Triomphe; The Triumph of 1810 by Cortot, Resistence and Peace, both by Antoine Étex and the most famous of them all, The Departure of the Volunteers of 1792, also known as La Marseillaise by François Rude.
So massive is L’Arc de Triomphe, that after the victory parade marking the end of World War I, Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport bi-plane under the arch!