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:
1. Arc de Triomphe, Sizun
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
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).
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. 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
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
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
In addition, Nancy counts three other arches from the 18th century: Porte Stanislas, Porte Sainte Catherine and Porte Désilles.
Find out more about Nancy’s Arc de Triomphe.
Read on the French blog: Les Portes de Nancy.
7. Porte de Paris, Nevers
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
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.
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.
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. 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.
Find out more about the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.
(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)