WHY VISITING THE ARC DE TRIOMPHE WAS ONE OF THE MOST TERRIFYING AND BEAUTIFUL EXPERIENCES WHILE IN PARIS?
Come for the ceremony and to see this Parisian icon, stay to watch the most terrifying and psychotic driving!
Any trip to Paris, just wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Arc de Triomphe, would it? I was only in Paris for a little over a day, yet I managed to squeeze in two visits to this iconic structure.
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The first occasion, I was nearing the end of a coach tour of Paris, taking in all of the wonderful sites this city has to offer. As we traveled along the Champs Elysees, we stopped at the traffic lights at the very top of the road, right in front of the famous Arc. I had a window seat, so I started snapping furiously away with my camera, as I had the most incredible view. Then the lights turned green and our coach moved cautiously into our lane, and we found ourselves in the middle of an absolute free-for-all! It was as if the road rules simply didn’t apply here, which was made more evident as cars seemed to fly at us from every direction. We were all literally screaming as our driver desperately tried to navigate his coach around what I now like to call, the island of death!
Then amidst all the chaos, everything suddenly calmed down, and order seemed to return to society once more. It was 6:30 PM, and unbeknownst to us, every evening, a ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, right beneath the Arc de Triomphe. For this ceremony’s duration, all the traffic is halted, and our coach was forced into a stop right at the foot of the monument. We practically had un-planned front-row seats. Zac and I were sat on the coach’s left-hand side, with a great view of the whole event. We looked on as members of the French Army formed a guard of honour before lighting the candle underneath the Arc. After this, members of the public walked down the center carrying flags. One person carried a wreath and laid it beside the flame. It was all very moving, and getting to see it all so up close was a real privilege and something I will never forget! The ceremony is relatively short – though it would have to be if they are going to stop traffic in the middle of the Parisian rush hour – and less the 10-minutes later, the traffic was moving again. I still find it very touching that they do this every night.
The Next Day, despite having flashbacks from the night before, it was great seeing this magnificent structure again, as this time around, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so it looked beautiful against the blue backdrop. While we were taking in the views, we got to see more of the infamous psychotic Parisian driving. Just like the night before, people were driving in whatever direction suited them. This is one of the most dangerous roundabouts to cross in all of Europe. In fact, it is so dangerous that insurance companies won’t insure you if you crash around here. Crazy!
Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France | www.paris-arc-de-triophe.fr
Thanks for reading my post on the Arc De Triomphe in Paris. Although my experience of this monument wasn’t so stress-free, I still think it’s a beautiful icon of Paris, and one that you simply can’t leave without seeing. Have you visited here before? Did you manage to leave without being scared for your life? Tell me what you think in the comments section below.
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