My interest in Napoleon's desire to honor the Grand Armée with this immense arch perhaps falls hand-in-hand with my fondness of films such as Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, The Last of The Mohicans, The Pianist and Cassablana. Neverthless, the few times I've visited Paris and the few times I've stood in front of the arc de triomphe, I often think of visitors who prefer the tour eiffel over the arc de triomphe. Yes, both are marvelous in their own way: (1) a monument to honor the French military and (2) an entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair, today's symbol of France, and even a symbol of love.
I'm certainly no historian, nor am I anti-love. I simply never tire of the magnificence of the arc de triomphe. Whenever I stand in front of its simple design and colossal size, typical of late 18th century romantic neoclassicism, my smile is that of a child who sees his favorite characters at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fl.
Again, I love it. All of it.
The sculptures unique to each pillar represent historic moments and they are names of major battles in Napoleonic wars: The Departure of the Volunteers in 1792 (aka la marseillaise), Napoleon's Triumph of 1810, Resistance of 1814 and Peace of 1815.
Napoleon I may have made several mistakes (putting it lightly) as the emperor of the French, but I'll give him this: The arc de triomphe is a truly remarkable structure adored and to be adored by people from every generation, from every part of the world.
Until next time... :)