When we hear the words “Arc de Triomphe”, most of us have the monumental Parisian arch at the top of the Champs-Élysées in mind. Few would know that they are other triumphal arches in France, many of them dating from the Roman era and still standing today. Some of the most famous are those of Glanum (Saint-Rémy-de-Provence), Orange, Besançon, Reims, Saintes, and Aix-les-Bains. Then, from the 17th to the 19th centuries, a few arches were raised as permanent monuments to serve the glory of the French kings or the ambitions of Napoleon Bonaparte. Called Post-Roman triumphal arches, they are often found in large French cities, except for the noticeable arch of the little town of Sizun in Brittany. Here is our alphabetical list of 10 post-Roman triumphal arches in France.
Our 10 triumphal arches are found throughout France as shown by the map:
1. Porte de Bourgogne, Bordeaux
Located at the former entrance of the road from Paris to the town of Bordeaux, the arch was dedicated to the Duke of Burgundy on the 24th January 1757.
There are two other historic gates in Bordeaux: Porte de l’Aquitaine and Porte Dijeaux (formerly Porte Dauphine).
Find out more about Bordeaux.
2. Porte Guillaume, Dijon
This monument was built one year before the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1788 in honour of the Prince de Condé then governor of Burgundy.
3. Porte de Paris, Lille
The triumphal arch is the most impressive gate in Lille. It was built between 1685 and 1692 in honour of Louis XIV who had recently annexed the city. The original ramparts were dismantled in 1858 to reveal the circular gate surrounded by a moat garden.
Find out more about Lille.
4. Porte d’Aix, Marseille
The triumphal arch of Porte d’Aix (formerly Porte Royale) in Marseille marked the old entry point to the city on the road from Aix-en-Provence. It was initially planned to honour Louis XIV in 1784. At completion in 1839, the monument commemorated the French victories in the Spanish Expedition.
5. Arc de Triomphe, Montpellier
Completed in 1693, the triumphal arch of Montpellier bears a strong resemblance to the Porte Saint-Martin in Paris. It was built in honour of Louis XIV and is found at the eastern end of the Promenade du Peyrou.
6. Arc de Triomphe, Nancy
Also called Arc Héré, the triumphal arch was built in honour to King Louis XV by his father-in-law, former King of Poland Stanislas. The monument links Place Stanislas to Place de la Carrière. There are three other arches in Nancy raised in the 18th century: Porte Stanislas, Porte Sainte Catherine and Porte Désilles.
Find out more about Nancy’s Arc de Triomphe.
7. Porte de Paris, Nevers
The Paris Gate commemorates the victory of Louis XV in Fontenoy in 1745. It was built from 1742 to 1746 on the site of the former ramparts of Nevers.
8. Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, Paris
The Arc de Triomphe conveys a powerful historic symbol at the centre of the star-shaped “Place de l’Étoile”. The huge arch was raised on the centreline of the Historical Axis of Paris, some 2.2km away from the Luxor Obelisk on the Place de la Concorde. This celebrated monument is the highest triumphal arch in Europe and stands 50 metres high.
Wanted by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars.
Find out more about the Arc de Triomphe.
9. Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Paris
Next to the Louvre, the Arc du Carrousel was built by Napoleon from 1807 to 1808 to celebrate the victory of the French imperial army in Austerlitz. The triumphal arch was designed on the model of the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Arch of Constantine, both found in Rome.
Other commemorative arches in Paris include Porte Saint-Martin and Porte Saint-Denis in the Grands-Boulevards district.
Find out more about the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.
10. Arc de Triomphe, Sizun
In this little historic town of Sizun stands a fine example of Breton Renaissance. Built between 1585 and 1588, it was listed as a historical monument by the French State in 1884. It is the only arch of our selection to be surmounted by religious signs. In 1989, an exact copy of the arch was raised in the Tuileries Garden in Paris for the bicentenary of the French Revolution.
(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs
- arch = arc (m)
- to build = construire (v)
- to commemorate = commémorer (v)
- to dedicate = dédier (v)
- gate = porte (f)
- honour = honneur (f)
- monument = monument (m)
- Napoleonic Wars = Guerres Napoléoniennes (f,p)
- rampart = rempart (m)
- Roman = romain (m)
- Rome = Rome
- symbol = symbole (m)
- triumphal arch = arc de triomphe (m), arc triomphal (m)
- victory = victoire (f)