Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Eternal Flame at the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe, Paris (1928 postcard photograph)

A symbol of the French Nation in War and Peace

The Arc de Triomphe, symbol of the French nation, the grand and the lowly, the old and the new, stands at the top of the Champs-Élysées in the centre of the Place de l'Étoile. It is at the highest point of a line running from the Louvre Museum to the Grande Arche de la Défense to west of Paris.

Beneath the arch is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, one of the many French soldiers who died in the First World War. Also found here is the Eternal Flame which burns in memory of the many unidentified French soldiers, sailors and airmen of the First World War and subsequently the Second World War.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below.
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Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Napoleon's 'Arch of Triumph'

At the western end of the Champs-Élysées, stands the the Arc de Triomphe, the Emperor Napoleon's triumphal arch. It is one of the most iconic landmarks of the city of Paris, second only perhaps to the Eiffel Tower. Its image has been painted and photographed countless times over the years. The above image is a postcard photograph from 1928.

It was commissioned by the Emperor Napoleon following the French victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1806 and was designed by Jean Chalgrin. Its inspiration comes from the Arch of Titus in Rome and took about two years to lay the foundations. In 1810 Napoleon and new bride, the Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, made a grand entrance into the city past a wooden facsimile of the design. After Napoleon's military defeats led to his deposition and the restoration of the monarchy, construction work on the Arc de Triomphe ceased for many years only recommencing during the reign of King Louis-Phillipe.

When Napoleon's mortal remains were returned to Paris in December 1840 the procession passed underneath the archway of the Arc de Triomphe, symbol of his spiritual legacy, on the way to his burial place at the Panthéon. On many occasions since, the Arc de Triomphe Following its construction, the Arc de Triomphe has been a rallying point for French troops and civilians alike: after military campaigns, on the French National day (Bastille day) and for civilians during the German Occupation of WW2.

It has not just been the French that have used the Arc de Triomphe as the backdrop to significant historical events. For example, in 1871 after their victory over the French in the Franco-Prussian War, the Prussians marched past the symbol of Napoleon's triumphal armies. It was the same in 1940 after the German victory in the West against France and Britain. Following the liberation of Paris in August 1944, both the French and then the Americans marched round the Arc de Triomphe and down the Champs-Élysées. From the time this became the final resting place of the Unknown Soldier at the end of the First World War all military parades have respected the symbolism of his final resting place.

Consequently, the marches have went round rather than through the arch. Even the German occupiers of Paris between 1940 and 1944 respected the Unknown Soldier and marched round the Place rather than through the arch.
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Thursday, 28 August, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The Place de l'Étoile (Place Charles de Gaulle)

The present day Place de l'Étoile (since 1970 officially the Place Charles de Gaulle, see below) has twelve broad avenues radiating from it. Much of this design and most of the names of the Avenues date from the time of Baron Haussmann's renovations of Paris during the Second Empire (i.e. the reign of the Emperor Napoleon III).

The twelve Avenues radiating from the Place de l'Étoile are as follows:
(1) Avenue Wagram / Boulevard de l'Étoile;

(2) Avenue Hoche (previously Avenue de la Reine-Hortense);

(3) Avenue de Friedland;

(4) Avenue des Champs-Élysées (arguably the most famous and prestigious thoroughfare in Paris);

(5) Avenue Marceau (previously the Avenue Joséphine);

(6) Avenue d'Iéna

(7) Avenue Kléber (previously Avenue du Roi-de-Rome);

(8) Avenue Victor Hugo (previously Avenue d'Eylau);

(9) Avenue Foch (previously Avenue du Bois de Boulogne)
[In 1929 it was renamed after the French Marshal Ferdinand Foch. During the Second World War, 84 Avenue Foch was requisitioned by the Gestapo for its headquarters and many of the captured Allied agents of the S.O.E. were held and tortured on the premises];

(10) Avenue de la Grande-Armée;

(11) Avenue Carnot (previously Avenue d'Essling);

(12) Avenue Kléber (previously Avenue du Roi-de-Rome).
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Thursday, 28 August, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The original proposal for the final resting place of the Unknown Soldier was in the Panthéon. However, following a public letter writing campaign it was decided he should be interred beneath the Arc de Triomphe. His coffin was placed in the first floor chapel on 10 November 1920, the day before the anniversary of the Armistice.

On 28 January 1921 the Unknown soldier was solemnly laid to rest beneath the archway. The stone above his tomb reads as follows:

« ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914 - 1918 »

This can be translated as follows:

"HERE LIES A FRENCH SOLDIER WHO DIED FOR HIS COUNTRY 1914 - 1918".
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Thursday, 28 August, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The Eternal Flame

Within a year, on 22 October 1922, the French Parliament declared that henceforth 11 November, the date of the Armistice would be a French national holiday. The following year, on 11 November 1923 M. Andre Maginot the French Minister for War, lit the Eternal Flame near the tomb of the Unknown Soldier for the first time.

Since then it has remained lit, even during the Second World War. Every evening at 6.30 p.m. this Eternal Flame is rekindled. This is a solemn time for all those who attend. There is a Committee which looks after this long term responsibility.

To have shadow there must be light. To overcome darkness there must be light. For there to be a shining beacon there must also be light. These things, and more, are what the light from the Eternal Flame represents.

The wartime leader of the Free French, General Charles de Gaulle, is also inexorably linked to the Arc de Triomphe, the Place de l'Étoile and the rekindling of the Eternal Flame. It was here, on 26 August 1944 the day after the liberation of Paris, that Charles de Gaulle became the first Frenchman in over four years to rekindle the Eternal Flame. Further, following the death of Charles de Gaulle in 1970, the Place de l'Étoile was officially renamed the Place Charles de Gaulle in his honour.
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Thursday, 28 August, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Visiting the Arc de Triomphe and further information

It is possible to visit the Arc de Triomphe and see the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame. It is also possible to go inside the arch. There is a lift (elevator) to take visitors most of the way to 'the attic' where there is a small museum with models of the structure.

To visit the terrace ('terrassse' in French) requires the visitor to climb another 46 steps. From there, it is possible to have a panoramic view over Paris and along each of the twelve Avenues listed above that radiate from the 'Place'.

For further information about the Arc de Triomphe, click on the following link to go to the official website:
Arc de Triomphe (official website)
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Thursday, 28 August, 2014  

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