Think of Paris for a moment. What do you think of? What do you picture in your mind’s eye? If I’m not mistaken, I’m guessing that the Arc de Triomphe probably features pretty high up on your list (after the Eiffel Tower that is!)…
What you may not know, however, is that there are actually two Arc de Triomphes in Paris; one at either end of a long stretch of roads and gardens that features the Champs Élysées and Jardin des Tuileries.
The smaller Arc de Triomphe is located right next to the iconic Louvre Pyramid and is formally referred to as the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. The larger (and more famous) of the two is referred to as the Arc de Triomphe d’Étoile and sits in a prime location, at the very centre of one of the busiest roundabouts in the World.
Both Arc de Triomphes were commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to celebrate his numerous victories and his army of dedicated soldiers. However, while the smaller Arc de Triomphe was completed in 1808, the larger Arc (which is roughly double the size of its’ counterpart) was not completed until 1836 (long after Napoleon’s death in 1821). But of course, neither of these are the original Arc de Triomphe…
Pictured: the view over to the Eiffel tower from the larger of the two Parisian Arc de Triumphs.
Pictured: the smaller of the two Parisian Arc de Triomphes at sunset; still a pretty impressive sight to see!
Original Arc de Triomphe, Orange, Provence
But here’s something that’s even less well known than the fact that there are two Arc de Triomphes in Paris; the original Arc de Triomphe traces its’ roots all the way back to the Roman era and is situated in the south of France in a little town called Orange in the beautiful region of Provence.
Otherwise known as the ‘Triumphal Arc of Orange‘ in English, the monument is now deemed so valuable that it has been named a UNESCO world heritage site. The limestone carved arch is in fairly good condition (the weather conditions in Provence are perfect for preserving old buildings and monuments), with panels depicting land battle scenes, naval wars and war trophies still visible. Built between 10 and 26/27 CE, during the middle ages, the arch was incorporated into the now lost town wall.
Much like the Arc de Triomphes in Paris, the arch doesn’t represent a single battle in particular, but rather the might of the Roman army and state in General. It was also built to commemorate the founders of Rome, with an honorary passage dedicated to the Roman emperor Tiberius.
Today, the monumental arch can be visited for free in the Provençal town of Orange (around a 10 minute walk from the city centre). Nearby, you can also visit one of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres in the World.