Top 10 Post-Roman triumphal arches in France

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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 people know about other triumphal arches in France. In fact, many of them date from the Roman era and are 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 list of 10 post-Roman triumphal arches in France.


Top 10 triumphal arches in France

Let’s start a ‘Tour of France’ of 10 triumphal arches:

Carte Arcs de Triomphe en France © French-Moments


1. Arc de Triomphe, Sizun

Sizun Arc de Triomphe © Thesupermat - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Sizun Arc de Triomphe © Thesupermat – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The little historic town of Sizun keeps a fine example of the Breton Renaissance. Construction of the gate took place from 1585 to 1588. The French State listed the triumphal arch as a historical monument in 1884.

In fact, it is the only arch of our selection with religious signs. In 1989, the Tuileries Garden in Paris raised an exact copy of the arch for the bicentenary of the French Revolution.


2. Porte de Bourgogne, Bordeaux

Porte de Bourgogne, Bordeaux © French Moments

Porte de Bourgogne, Bordeaux © French Moments

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 of January 1757.

In addition, there are two other historic gates in Bordeaux: Porte de l’Aquitaine and Porte Dijeaux (formerly Porte Dauphine).

Porte Dijeaux, Bordeaux © French Moments

Porte Dijeaux, Bordeaux © French Moments

Porte d'Aquitaine, Bordeaux © French Moments

Porte d’Aquitaine, Bordeaux © French Moments

Find out more about Bordeaux.


2. Porte Guillaume, Dijon

Porte Guillaume, Dijon © French Moments

Porte Guillaume, Dijon © French Moments

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

Porte de Paris in Lille © Vigneron - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Porte de Paris in Lille © Vigneron – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The triumphal arch is the most impressive gate in Lille. Construction took place from 1685 to 1692 in honour of Louis XIV who had recently annexed the city. When the town dismantled its medieval ramparts in 1858, the gate took its present-day appearance, surrounded by a circular moat garden.

Find out more about Lille.


4. Porte d’Aix, Marseille

Porte d'Aix Marseille © Robert Valette - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Porte d’Aix Marseille © Robert Valette – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

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. However, at completion in 1839, the monument commemorated the French victories in the Spanish Expedition.


5. Arc de Triomphe, Montpellier

Montpellier Triumphal Arch

Montpellier Triumphal Arch

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 at the eastern end of the Promenade du Peyrou.


6. Arc de Triomphe “Porte Héré”, Nancy

triumphal arches in France: Arc Héré, Nancy © French Moments

Arc Héré seen from Place Stanislas © French Moments

Also called Porte 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.

In addition, Nancy counts three other arches from the 18th century: Porte Stanislas, Porte Sainte Catherine and Porte Désilles.

Porte Désilles, Nancy © French Moments

The historic gate of Porte Désilles, Nancy © French Moments

Porte Sainte-Catherine, Nancy © French Moments

Porte Sainte-Catherine, Nancy © French Moments

Porte Stanislas, Nancy © French Moments

Porte Stanislas, Nancy © French Moments

Find out more about Nancy’s Arc de Triomphe.

Read on the French blog: Les Portes de Nancy.


7. Porte de Paris, Nevers

Porte de Paris Nevers © Mossot - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Porte de Paris Nevers © Mossot – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The Paris Gate commemorates the victory of Louis XV in Fontenoy in 1745. Its construction took place from 1742 to 1746 on the site of the former ramparts of Nevers.


8. Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, Paris

Arc de Triomphe © French Moments

On the Champs-Elysées’ side – left: La bataille d’Aboukir (The Battle of Aboukir), by Seurre the Elder ; right: Les funérailles du général Marceau (General Marceau’s burrial), by P.H. Lamaire © French Moments

The Arc de Triomphe conveys a powerful historic symbol at the centre of the star-shaped “Place de l’Étoile”. The huge arch takes centre stage on the centreline of the Historical Axis of Paris. It stands 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 is 50 metres high.

Wanted by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars.

In addition, visitors can either use the lift or climb the 284 steps to reach the panoramic platform.

>> Buy your online ticket to the rooftop and skip the queue! <<

The panoramic view from the platform is amazing as it displays the twelve avenues departing from the Place de l’Étoile.

The viewing platform also offers a fine view over the whole Historical Axis, from the Louvre to the Grande Arche in the CBD of La Défense.

View of Paris from Arc de Triomphe © French Moments

View of the Champs-Élysées from the top © French Moments

Find out more about the Arc de Triomphe.


9. Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Paris

Winter walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre © French Moments

A view of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and the Historical Axis of Paris © French Moments

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. Two Roman arches in Rome served as a model to the Arc du Carrousel: the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Arch of Constantine.

Finally, other commemorative arches in Paris include Porte Saint-Martin and Porte Saint-Denis in the Grands-Boulevards district.

Porte Saint-Martin

Porte Saint-Martin © French Moments

Find out more about the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.


English-French Vocabulary

(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs

  • arch = arc (m)
  • to build = construire (v)
  • to commemorate = commémorer (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)

 

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

6 Comments

  1. Tony Baldwin on

    Great stuff Pierre. Lea and I have seen the Arch at Orange which is Roman as you say. Very interesting to see the post-Roman arches. I cannot see a French government of any persuasion building a new one!

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