Paris – Champs Elysees & Arc de Triomphe

Hi friends, welcome back to my Paris and London Anniversary series 🙂 I’m picking up on day three of our trip after we spent most of the day touring the Louvre. Jon and I rested up a bit back at our hotel before beginning the trek down the Champs-Élysées (pronounced shahnz ay-lee-zay) to the Arc de Triomphe. We went on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, probably the busiest time to make the 2.7 mile walk from our hotel to the famous arch, but we enjoyed cruising down this famous Parisian street. It reminded me a bit of walking down Fifth Avenue at Christmastime.

After crossing the Seine River, Jon and I walked under the smaller Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and through the Jardin de Tuileries. The almost 70 acre garden sits directly in between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. Prior to being a public park, this area was the royal garden of the Tuileries Palace. The palace burned down, but luckily the garden survived and was opened to the public.

This is a picture of what it used to look like, hard to imagine a whole palace used to be here. (picture is from Wikipedia)

Nowadays there are many places to sit, sculptures to admire, paths to wander, and space for kids to run around. Jon and I walked through this expansive park quite a bit throughout our trip.

We next passed through the Place de la Concorde, the location of Marie-Antoinette, Louis XVI, and 1,200 other beheadings during the French Revolution. The hard to miss obelisk of Luxor in the center of the square was placed by Louis XVI’s brother Charles X to commemorate the beheadings. It is 72 feet tall, 220 tons, and 3,300 years old. The obelisk was brought to France in 1830 after being removed from Ramses II’s Temple of Amon in Luxor.

The iconic Champs-Élysées runs 1.2 miles ( 1.9 kilometers) from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. It is lined with trees, luxury stores, cafes, and everything in between. We didn’t do any shopping but I noticed very long lines at the designer stores, especially Louis Vuitton! Jon’s lucky I’m not a purse gal 😉

The Arc de Triomphe was built by Napoleon in 1809 to commemorate his victory in the battle of Austerlitz. This Roman inspired arch stands 165 feet tall and was dedicated to the armies of the Revolution and Empire by Louis-Philippe in 1836. Napoleon didn’t survive to see its completion, but he was taken through the arch during his funeral procession.

The Arc de Triomphe is also famous for being where the Nazis arrived in Paris, where Charles de Gaulle returned after the Allies won the war, the tomb for the Unknown Soldier, and a place for celebrating the World Cup victory in 2018. In addition, the Bastille Day military parade begins at the arch and the Tour de France ends here.

There are stairs that go below this crazy roundabout to get to the base of the Arc de Triomphe. You can walk around the base of the arch for free, but you need tickets to go up to the top. The line to climb up was long, but it moved pretty fast, so don’t be discouraged if it looks insanely long. We climbed 284 spiral stairs, but it was worth the cardio and cost of admission for the incredible views at the top!

I loved seeing all twelve avenues converging at the arch and watching the traffic navigate the wild roundabout. Apparently, the cars entering the circle have the right of way.

Our first unobstructed views of the majestic Eiffel Tour on our trip!

We could see Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur all the way in the distance. (Spoiler alert: we walked there from our hotel the following morning)

Getting an unobstructed picture up here was quite the task, but we succeeded. This would also be a great spot to watch the sunset!

Jon and I walked all the way home, another 2.7 miles, and then feasted at our favorite restaurant we tried in Paris called Pizzeria Positano. We ordered pizza, pasta, and the tiramisu!

Day three in Paris was amazing, but tiring. We walked over 27,000 steps and saw the Louvre, Tuileries Garden, Champs-Élysées, and the Arc de Triomphe. We had the best day exploring Paris, stay tuned for day four starting in Montmartre 🙂


Posts in my Paris and London Anniversary series:


38 thoughts on “Paris – Champs Elysees & Arc de Triomphe

  1. Oh that does sound like a fabulous way to spend the afternoon! I still remembering standing atop the Arc de Triomphe (though I really don’t remember getting to the arc at all).

    1. Very true! I figured we could sleep and relax when we made it back to NYC. Might as well see as much as we can while we were there!

  2. So much familiar territory. A good walking day for sure. On our walking day, we added la Tour Eiffel, Napolean’s Tomb and Pont Allexandre III. Glad you made it up to top of l’Arc de Triomphe. We could have stayed there for hours, watching the crazy traffic. I bet you are glad you are not there in the stifling heat of July. Thanks for the memories, Lyssy. Allan

    1. We never made it to Napolean’s Tomb but we walked by the museum a few times. We could’ve stayed up there longer had we not gotten hungry. The traffic sure is wild! I saw that it was 103 over there and I know they don’t usually have a/c. Very glad we were there when it was only up to 80. Glad this brought back good memories 🙂

    1. I hope you make it there too! No travel woes luckily, I think we just beat the summer rush. Worst thing that happened was that I forgot about the one quart of liquids rule in the UK airports and had to toss half my toiletries but no cancelled flights/crazy security issues.

      1. I didn’t bring any shampoo/condition, just used what the hotel had. They consider contact lenses as liquids and I had enough to last a few weeks, but I had anti wrinkle creams, hair styling product, makeup, and it all had to close in a sandwich bag. Even mascara was a liquid to them. We only travel with carryons so I really had only the necessities and re-wore outfits.

      2. I’m glad you had no issues. I keep hearing Heathrow and other airports keep asking airlines to cut 15 percent of their flights because they can not handle the luggage issue. Now they are asking them to kick 15 percent of the people off flights. I guess I could do it with taking only a carry on. A man who just returned said buy your clothes there and either mail them home or leave them there.

  3. Another great post, Lyssy! Love the pictures from the top of the Arc because they give a nice perspective of Paris as a whole (or parts). I never knew you could go to the top. Looks like there were lots of crowds to navigate through. I’m enjoying traveling with you and Jon!

    1. Thank you so much! We happened to be there when they light a candle for the tomb of the Unknown Soldier so there were even more crowds than usual. The line moved a lot faster than I expected thankfully. I’m so glad you’re enjoying this series!!

  4. Paris has an outstanding metro, but it is an even better city for walking. I can see that you took full advantage of that. Thanks for the interesting historical facts about the Jardins des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde and the Arch de Triomphe and the photos from your walk to the Arch. Tuileries.

    1. We only took the metro once because I was paranoid about pickpockets, but it is a lot nicer than the subway! We enjoyed getting all our steps in, especially with the nice weather we were welcomed with. Glad you enjoyed this post!

    1. Thank you! It is so interesting to see what it used to look like, I had no idea about the history of the gardens until we got home. Never would’ve occurred to me a palace would be there.

  5. Epic day, Lyssy. I’ll never forget the cost of my coffee many years ago on Champs-Élysées. Young me had never seen a cup of coffee priced like that. Indeed, Jon is lucky that you did not go for a Vuitton. Walking is the best way to experience and get a feel for the city. I hear a lot of complaints lately that Paris has become unwalkeable and dominated by traffic – what was your impression?

    1. It’s crazy what places charge for coffee nowadays! I agree that walking is the best way to get a feel for the city. I thought it was very walkable and we didn’t have any issues. We walked from St. Germain to Sacre Coeur, to the Eiffel Tower, to Notre Dame (at different times of the trip!) but I feel like we covered the whole city by foot and really enjoyed it. I will say the sidewalks are pretty narrow so that was kind of a pain trying to get around people at times, but other than that super walkable.

  6. Such a great informative post. The picture at the top of the Arc is so beautiful 😍

  7. I wonder if there was time the Arc was more of an entrance to the city and now Paris has simply expanded in all directions. It seems like a strange choice of monument for a war victory but Napoleon was clearly a character. The roundabout seems as famous as the Arc itself (I always think of the scene from the movie “European Vacation”). Nice to know you can climb to the top. The views look as majestic as those from the Eiffel Tower.

    1. That’s a great question! I think it was sort of an entrance gate back in the day and maybe the Champs Elysees was like an epic driveway to the Tuilieres Palace. The roundabout reminds me of Emily in Paris 🙂 I think the views might be better because you can actually see the Eiffel Tower.

      1. Ah, I take your point on the views from the Arc. You can’t see the Eiffel Tower from the Eiffel Tower 🙂

  8. Walking through Paris is certainly the best way to see it, but I understand how frustrating it must be to pass so many places without being able to stop and visit everything. Paris is becoming more pedestrian friendly, but in my opinion it lags far behind the larger provincial cities and most European tourist cities.

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