What is Inside the Arc de Triomphe?

The Arc de Triomphe, a monumental symbol of French national pride, seamlessly blends intricate architecture with a rich historical tapestry. 

Standing proudly at the intersection of 12 lanes in Paris, including the popular Champs-Élysées, it serves as a symbol of France’s military victories.

The architectural marvel draws inspiration from the neoclassical design of the Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum.

With around 1.5 million visitors each year, this iconic structure offers more than just a magnificent view from the top.

Contrary to mere external admiration, the Arc de Triomphe offers an immersive experience as you explore its interior. 

Climbing over 200 steps within the monument itself, you embark on a two-stage journey. 

The first stage involves ascending a circular staircase leading to a chamber housing commemorative decorations, a small museum room, toilets, and a surprising gift shop. 

The museum inside Arc de Triomphe unfolds the captivating history and significance of the monument.

It houses a compelling display of artifacts, photographs, and information related to the wars and notable figures commemorated by the arch. 

The second stage entails climbing a straight staircase to reach the platform, providing a breathtaking panorama of Paris, including a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower. 

The Arc de Triomphe’s interior not only reveals its architectural intricacies but also serves as a testament to the historical events and individuals it displays.

It is a must-visit destination for those seeking to delve into France’s past and architectural prowess.

While seeing the Arc from the outside offers a magnificent view of its towering grandeur, the inside reveals a rich tapestry of history, art, and symbolism.

You will need entry tickets to visit the inside of Arc de Triomphe, the rooftop, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the museum. 

Get your Arc de Triomphe tickets in advance to secure your spot and make the most of your visit.


In addition to the numerous inscriptions and decorations on the exterior walls, the interior walls of the arc also hold a touching tribute to the heroes of the past. 

The names of 660 individuals are etched into these walls, with a notable 558 being French generals from the First French Empire. 

Notably, the names of generals who fell in battle are underlined.

When your eyes lift toward the ceiling, you’ll be greeted by 21 sculpted roses, each one a delicate and intricate work of art. 

Spiral staircase 

Step inside the Arc de Triomphe, and you’re in for an adventure that’s as fascinating as it is memorable. 

Your journey begins at the base with a 284-step spiral staircase that invites you to climb and discover the heart of this iconic monument. 

With each step, you’re not just ascending; you’re unraveling the layers of history tied to the Arc de Triomphe.

 An elevator is available for people with mobility issues. 

Inside rooms 

Before reaching the summit, you’ll find two floors with fascinating permanent installations. 

These cover topics like the Unknown Soldier and the construction of the Arc de Triomphe. 

A helpful model of the monument and a video installation provides insights into its three-decade-long construction process, which unfolded from 1806 to 1836. 

A notable statue inside Arc de Triomphe is the head of Marianne, the iconic symbol of the French Republic, inspired by Eugène Delacroix’s masterpiece, ‘The Departure of the Volunteers.’ 

With her determined gaze and flowing hair, Marianne embodies the timeless values of liberty, equality, and fraternity that have shaped France.

Another remarkable sculpture is ‘Le Poilu,’ a plaster model of a World War I French soldier created by the talented sculptor Jean Boucher. 

This powerful sculpture pays tribute to the brave soldiers who served during the First World War. 

As you reach the 202nd step, you’ll find yourself on the mezzanine floor—a sweet spot that offers a unique view of the buzz below.

A flat-screen on the ground lets you peek into the lively activities surrounding the Arc, giving you a fresh perspective of a live view from a surveillance camera from above. 

Against another wall, a looping series of still photos highlights various arches worldwide.

These include the Marble Arch, Japan’s slim red torii gates, India Gate, and Laos’ Patuxai, among others.

Take a moment to explore the small museum area here, showcasing intricate moldings that add artistic flair to the monument’s exterior.

After a bit more climbing, you’ll enter the attic room—a vast space brimming with surprises. 

The space displays paintings, drawings, and models depicting the arch, accompanied by documents and photos that unravel the monument’s historical significance.

You can also watch a captivating film that spills the beans on the Arc de Triomphe’s temporary makeover in 2021, when it was wrapped as a breathtaking art installation for 16 days. 

It’s a behind-the-scenes look at a remarkable transformation. 

Another large video screen awaits, sharing the compelling story of the Arc’s history and how Napoleon played a part in its creation—with English subtitles for everyone to enjoy.

The attic room holds a charming gift shop, standing out for its affordability. 

Forget the hefty prices; here, you’ll find souvenirs at a steal, including metal Eiffel Towers that won’t break the bank.

46 more steps from the attic room will take you to the terrace with breathtaking views of the city and beyond.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Beneath the Arc de Triomphe lies the tomb of an unknown soldier.

Representing countless sacrifices for France and honoring those lost in World War I, it was installed in 1920.

The epitaph reads, ‘Here rests a French soldier who died for the Fatherland, 1914-1918.’ 

Surrounded by a granite slab and metal posts, it features an eternal flame, lit since 1923, symbolizing remembrance. 

Accessible during Arc de Triomphe hours, the tomb is closed briefly for the daily flame rekindling. 


Is there anything inside the Arc de Triomphe?

The Arc de Triomphe has a rich interior. 

It pays homage to French victories and generals, holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and features inscriptions of 660 individuals, notably 558 French generals. 

The interior also boasts a spiral staircase to the mezzanine floor, an attic room with a museum, captivating films, an affordable gift shop, and a terrace.

Is it worth going inside the Arc de Triomphe?

The Arc de Triomphe inside offers a unique historical experience with panoramic views, inscriptions, and a small museum. 

Despite the 284-stair climb, the breathtaking view from the top, coupled with the rich symbolism and exhibits, makes it a visit well worth the effort.

Featured Image: Arc of Peace – Milan, Italy Stock photos by Vecteezy

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