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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, located under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, is a powerful tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War. 

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

The site consists of a granite slab surrounded by black metal posts and chains and since 1923, it has been illuminated by an eternal flame which is rekindled every day at 6:30 pm. 

Since its installation on November 11, 1920, the tomb has come to represent all French soldiers who have sacrificed for their country. 

In the post-World War II era, a specialized unit of the National Police added a bronze shield embellished with a sword engulfed in flames to the foot of the tomb, which they now permanently guard.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier stands as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by French soldiers throughout history.

Take the Arc de Triomphe guided tour to learn more about the monument’s history and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier facts. 

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Paris location 

The tomb’s location is significant for its proximity to the Arc de Triomphe and its central location in Paris. 

You can easily combine a visit to the tomb with other attractions and landmarks nearby, making it a must-see destination if you are interested in French history and culture.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is situated beneath the iconic Arc de Triomphe on the Place Charles de Gaulle in Paris, France. 

To visit the tomb, you must first reach the Arc de Triomphe via the tunnel beneath the Place Charles de Gaulle. 

The tunnel has two entrances, one on the Champs Elysées side and the other diametrically opposite the square. 

You can easily find a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier map through any navigation service on your mobile. 

Get the Arc de Triomphe rooftop tickets in advance and visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to pay your respects to the fallen soldiers and witness the beautiful view of Paris from atop the monument.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier hours

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, located beneath the Arc de Triomphe, is open to visitors at all times the Arc de Triomphe is open. 

However, the access is closed during the daily rekindling of the flame at 6.30 pm for approximately half an hour and during official military ceremonies. 

Arc de Triomphe access is limited to 10.30 pm or 11 pm, depending on the season.

From 1 April to 30 September, you can visit the monument between 10 am and 11 pm.

From 1 October to 31 March, the arc is open between 10 am and 10:30 pm. 

The Arc de Triomphe is closed on certain dates, including 1 January, 1 May, 8 May (morning, military ceremony), 14 July (morning, military ceremony), 11 November (morning, military ceremony) and 25 December.

Note:  The last access to the monument is 45 minutes before closing time. 

History of Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris has a long and poignant history. 

During World War I, the idea for such a memorial was first proposed in 1916, and in 1919, the decision was made to lay it in the Pantheon in Paris.

In 1920, Auguste Thien reviewed eight identical coffins at the Citadel of Verdun, each containing the remains of an unknown French soldier who had died during the Great War. 

The sixth coffin, selected and transported to Paris, rested in the chapel on the first floor of the Arc de Triomphe. 

The Unknown French soldier was eventually laid to rest in the tomb at the base of the Arc de Triomphe in 1921. 

On October 22, 1922, the French Parliament declared November 11 a national holiday. 

The following year, on November 11, Andre Maginot, the French Minister for War, lit the eternal flame for the first time. 

Since then, it has become the duty of the Committee of the Flame to rekindle the torch every evening at twilight.

The rekindling ceremony at 6.30 pm is a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made by all soldiers who have died for France throughout history.

Who is buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in France?

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in France holds the remains of a French soldier randomly chosen from eight unidentified bodies. 

The selection was made by a young soldier named Auguste Thin, who was a part of the guard of honor at the Fort of Verdun. 

The soldier’s identity remains unknown despite extensive efforts by historians and history enthusiasts. 

The seven other unidentified remains were placed at the military cemetery of Faubourg Pavé, near Verdun, in a section known as the ‘Square of the Seven Unknowns’ (Carré des sept inconnus).

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier serves as a solemn reminder of the countless soldiers who gave their lives for France and its people and honored the sacrifices made by these brave soldiers, even if their names are lost to history.

FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

What is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a monument that symbolically represents all unnamed soldiers who died for their country.

Where is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in France?

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is situated beneath the historic monument Arc de Triomphe in Paris. 

Who is the unknown soldier under the Arc de Triomphe?

The tomb under the Arc de Triomphe belongs to an unidentified French soldier who died during the First World War.

Is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe?

An unknown soldier rests under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier inside Paris is a reminder of the sacrifices made by fallen French soldiers throughout history.

Are there human remains in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?

Human remains belonging to an unidentified French soldier lie in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in France. 

Who is in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?

Buried in the tomb on November 11, 1920, the soldier’s identity remains unknown. 

How many bodies are in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?

Only one body is buried in France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

It holds the remains of a French soldier who was chosen at random from among eight unidentified bodies.

Who guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in France?

A specialized unit of the French National Police guards the monument permanently.

Why is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier guarded?

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded to ensure that the site is respected and not defiled by visitors stepping on it.  

The guards also stand as a symbol of the honor and respect that is due to the soldiers who have given their lives for France. 

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