The Arc de Triomphe is a monument in Paris that stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as the « Place de l’Étoile ». It is at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. The triumphal arch honors those who fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. On the inside and the top of the arc there are all of the names of generals and wars fought. Underneath is the tomb of the unknown soldier from World War I.
The Arc is the linchpin of the historic axis (Axe historique) — a sequence of monuments and grand thoroughfares on a route which goes from the courtyard of the Louvre Palace to the outskirts of Paris. The monument was designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1836, and its iconographic program pitted heroically nude French youths against bearded Germanic warriors in chain mail and set the tone for public monuments, with triumphant nationalistic messages, until World War I.
The monument stands 49.5 m (162 ft) in height, 45 m (150 ft) wide and 22 m (72 ft) deep. The large vault is 29.19 m (95.8 ft) high and 14.62 m (48.0 ft) wide. The big vault is 18.68 m (61.3 ft) high and 8.44 m (27.7 ft) wide. It is the second largest triumphal arch in existence. Its design was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus. The Arc de Triomphe is so colossal that three weeks after the Paris victory parade in 1926, marking the end of hostilities in World War I, Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport biplane through it, with the event captured on newsreel.
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It forms the backdrop for an impressive urban ensemble in Paris. The monument surmounts the hill of Chaillot at the center of a star-shaped configuration of radiating avenues. It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Emperor Napoleon at the peak of his fortunes. Laying the foundations alone took two years, and in 1810 when Napoleon entered Paris from the west with his bride Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, he had a wooden mock-up of the completed arch constructed. The architect Jean Chalgrin died in 1811, and the work was taken over by Jean-Nicolas Huyot. During the Bourbon Restoration, construction was halted and it would not be completed until the reign of King Louis-Philippe, in 1833–36 when the architects on site were Goust, then Huyot, under the direction of Héricart de Thury. Napoleon’s body passed under it on 15 December 1840 on its way to its second and final resting place at the Invalides.
Since the fall of Napoleon (1815), the sculpture representing Peace is interpreted as commemorating the Peace of 1815. The astylar design is by Jean Chalgrin (1739–1811), in the Neoclassical version of ancient Roman architecture (see, for example, the triumphal Arch of Titus at right). Major academic sculptors of France are represented in the sculpture of the Arc de Triomphe: Jean-Pierre Cortot; François Rude; Antoine Étex; James Pradier and Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire. The main sculptures are not integral friezes but are treated as independent trophies applied to the vast ashlar masonry masses, not unlike the gilt-bronze appliqués on Empire furniture. The four sculptural groups at the base of the Arc are The Triumph of 1810 (Cortot), Resistance and Peace (both by Antoine Étex) and the most renowned of them all, Departure of the Volunteers of 1792 commonly called La Marseillaise (François Rude). The face of the allegorical representation of France calling forth her people on this last was used as the belt buckle for the seven-star rank of Marshal of France.
In the attic above the richly sculptured frieze of soldiers are 30 shields engraved with the names of major Revolutionary and Napoleonic military victories. (The Battle of Fuentes de Onoro is described as a French victory, instead of the tactical draw). The inside walls of the monument list the names of 660 persons, among which 558 French generals of the First French Empire; the names of those who died in battle are underlined. Also inscribed, on the shorter sides of the four supporting columns, are the names of the major victorious battles of the Napoleonic Wars. The battles which took place in the period between the departure of Napoleon from Elba and his final defeat at Waterloo are not included.
The sword carried by the Republic in the Marseillaise relief broke off on the day, it is said, that the Battle of Verdun began in 1916. The relief was immediately hidden by tarpaulins to conceal the accident and avoid any undesired ominous interpretations. Famous victory marches past the Arc have included the Germans in 1871, the French in 1918, the Germans in 1940, and the French and Allies in 1944 and 1945. Charles de Gaulle survived an attack upon him at the Arc de Triomphe during a parade[when?].
 The Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe, Paris
Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War. Interred here on Armistice Day 1920, it has the first eternal flame lit in Western and Eastern Europe since the Vestal Virgins’ fire was extinguished in the year 394. It burns in memory of the dead who were never identified (now in both World Wars). The French model inspired the United Kingdom’s tomb of The Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey. A ceremony is held there every 11 November on the anniversary of the armistice signed between France and Germany in 1918. It was originally decided on 12 November 1919 to bury the unknown soldier’s remains in the Panthéon, but a public letter-writing campaign led to the decision to bury him beneath the Arc de Triomphe. The coffin was put in the chapel on the first floor of the Arc on 10 November 1920, and put in its final resting place on 28 January 1921. The slab on top carries the inscription ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914–1918 (« Here lies a French soldier who died for the fatherland 1914–1918″).
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy of the United States paid their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, accompanied by French President de Gaulle. After the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy remembered the eternal flame at the Arc de Triomphe and requested that an eternal flame be placed next to her husband’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. President de Gaulle went to Washington to attend the state funeral, and he was able to witness Jacqueline Kennedy lighting the eternal flame that was inspired by her visit to France.
The flame was extinguished in 1998 during the FIFA World Cup by a drunk Mexican national who peed on it. He was arrested and charged with Public Intoxication.
By the early 1960s, the monument had grown very blackened from coal soot and automobile exhaust, and during 1965–1966 the it was thoroughly cleaned through bleaching. By 2007, some darkening was again apparent. The arc is planned to be bleached again in 2011
The Pont Neuf (French for « New Bridge » is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris, France. Its name, which was given to distinguish it from older bridges that were lined on both sides with houses, has remained.
Standing by the western point of the Île de la Cité, the island in the middle of the river that was the heart of medieval Paris, it connects the Rive Gauche of Paris with the Rive Droite.
The bridge is composed of two separate spans, one of five arches joining the left bank to the Île de la Cité, another of seven joining the island to the right bank. Old engraved maps of Paris show how, when the bridge was built, it just grazed the downstream tip of the Île de la Cité; since then, the natural sandbar building of a mid-river island, aided by stone-faced embankments called quais, has extended the island. Today the island is the Square du Vert-Galant, a park named in honour of Henry IV, nicknamed the « Green Gallant. »
As early as 1550, Henry II was asked to build a bridge here because the existing Pont Notre-Dame was overloaded, but the expense was too much at the time.
Painting of the Pont Neuf project as approved by King Henry III in 1577. The bridge was ultimately completed in 1606 with a less ornate design.
In 1577, the decision to build the bridge was made by King Henry III who laid its first stone in 1578, during which year the foundations of four piers and one abutment were completed.A major design change was made in 1579 requiring the widening of the bridge to allow houses to be built (though they never were) made the piers on the long arm longer. These piers were built over the next nine years. After a long delay beginning in 1588, due in part to the Wars of Religion, construction was resumed in 1599.The bridge was completed under the reign of Henry IV, who inaugurated it in 1607.
The Île de la Cité looking upstream from the West, with the Pont Neuf spanning the Seine.
The bastions give the Pont Neuf its fortified air.
Like most bridges of its time, The Pont Neuf is constructed as a series of many short arch bridges, following Roman precedents. It was the first stone bridge in Paris not to support houses in addition to a thoroughfare, and was also fitted with pavements protecting pedestrians from mud and horses; pedestrians could also step aside into its bastions to let a bulky carriage pass. The decision not to include houses on the bridge can be traced back directly to Henry IV, who decided against their inclusion on the grounds that houses would impede a clear view of the Louvre, which he extended substantially during his reign.
The bridge had heavy traffic from the beginning; it was for a long time the widest bridge in Paris. The bridge has undergone much repair and renovation work, including rebuilding of seven spans in the long arm and lowering of the roadway by changing the arches from an almost semi-circular to elliptical form (1848-1855), lowering of sidewalks and faces of the piers, spandrels, cornices and replacing crumbled corbels as closely to the originals as possible. In 1885, one of the piers of the short arm was undermined, removing the two adjacent arches, requiring them to be rebuilt and all the foundations strengthened.
A major restoration of the Pont Neuf was begun in 1994 and was completed in 2007, the year of its 400th anniversary.
Under the wide arches, on the paved quais, the destitute of Paris called clochards have always huddled.
At the point where the bridge crosses the Île de la Cité, there stands a bronze equestrian statue of King Henry IV of France, originally commissioned from Giambologna under the orders of Marie de Médicis, Henri’s widow and Regent of France, in 1614. After his death, Giambologna’s assistant Pietro Tacca completed the statue, which was erected on its pedestal by Pietro Francavilla, in 1618. It was destroyed in 1792 during the French Revolution, but was rebuilt in 1818, following the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. Bronze for the new statue was obtained with the bronze from a statue of Louis Charles Antoine Desaix and cast from a mold made using a surviving cast of the original. Inside the statue, the new sculptor François-Frédéric Lemot put four boxes, containing a history of the life of Henry IV, a 17th-century parchment certifying the original statue, a document describing how the new statue was commissioned, and a list of people who contributed to a public subscription.
Source : Wikipedia.org
The Pont des Arts or Passerelle des Arts is a pedestrian bridge in Paris which crosses the Seine River. It links the Institut de France and the central square (cour carrée) of the palais du Louvre, (which had been termed the « Palais des Arts » under the First Empire).
Between 1802 and 1804, a nine-arch metallic bridge for pedestrians was constructed at the location of the present day Pont des Arts: this was the first metal bridge in Paris. This innovation was due to Napoléon I, following a design of English manufacture. The engineers Louis-Alexandre de Cessart and Jacques Dillon initially conceived of a bridge which would resemble a suspended garden, with trees, banks of flowers, and benches.
In 1976, the Inspector of Bridges and Causeways (Ponts et Chaussées) reported several deficiencies on the bridge. More specifically, he noted the damage that had been caused by two aerial bombardments sustained during World War I and World War II and the harm done from the multiple collisions caused by boats. The bridge would be closed to circulation in 1977 and, in 1979, suffered a 60 meter collapse after a barge rammed into it.
The present bridge was built between 1981 and 1984 « identically » according to the plans of Louis Arretche, who had decided to reduce the number of arches from nine to seven, allowing the look of the old bridge to be preserved while realigning the new structure with the Pont Neuf. On 27 June 1984, the newly reconstructed bridge was inaugurated by Jacques Chirac – then the mayor of Paris.
The bridge has sometimes served as a place for art exhibitions, and is today a studio en plein air for painters, artists and photographers who are drawn to its unique point of view. The Pont des Arts is also frequently a spot for picnics during the summer.
The argentinian writer, Julio Cortázar, talk about this bridge in his book « Rayuela ». When Horacio Oliveira goes with the pythia and this tells him that the bridge for La Maga is the « Ponts des Arts ». This is a great allusion of Cortázar for one of his greatest novels, even one of the best novels ever written.
Source : Wikipedia.org
Île des Cygnes (English: Isle of the Swans) is a small island in the Seine in Paris, France, located in the 15th and 16th arrondissement. It is an artificially-created island, formed in 1827 to protect the port of Grenelle. It derives its name from an earlier Île des Cygnes which was attached to the Champ de Mars in the late 18th century.
The narrow island is 850 meters (2,789 ft) long and 11 meters (36 ft) at its widest point. A tree-lined walkway, named « l’Allée des Cygnes », runs the length of the island.
The island is served by the Passy and Bir-Hakeim Métro stations. It is crossed by three bridges: the Pont de Grenelle, the Pont Rouelle and the Pont de Bir-Hakeim.
A notable feature is a small replica of the Statue of Liberty, 22 meters high and facing west in the direction of its larger sibling in New York City. This statue, which was inaugurated at its site on 15 November 1889 (three years after its counterpart), was given by the French community living in the United States to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. It initially faced east, toward the Eiffel Tower, but it was turned west in 1937, for the exposition universelle hosted by Paris that year. Its base carries a commemorative plate, and the booklet it holds in its left hand carries the inscription IV Juillet 1776 = XIV Juillet 1789, recognizing the American Independence Day and Bastille Day, respectively. Another statue is sited in Jardin du Luxembourg.
The Pont Charles-de-Gaulle (Charles-de-Gaulle Bridge) is a steel-reinforced concrete girder bridge straddling the river Seine in the eastern part of Paris. It is a one-way bridge carrying road traffic from the 13th arrondissement to the 12th arrondissement. Further downstream, also a one-way bridge, Pont d’Austerlitz carries traffic travelling in the opposite direction.
In 1986, the Council of Paris (Conseil de Paris) decided to construct a new bridge between Pont de Bercy and Pont d’Austerlitz in south-west Paris, which would imitate the design of Pont d’Austerlitz. The aims of this project were to ease the traffic on Pont d’Austerlitz, the most heavily loaded bridge in the capital, to connect the new Bibliothèque nationale de France (also known as the François Mitterrand Library) to the district of Bercy on the Right Bank and to establish a direct link between Gare de Lyon and Gare d’Austerlitz.
A Europe-wide competition was held in 1987 to determine the best project design. At the conclusion of the competition, the laureate concept set forth by Louis Arretche and Roman Karasinski was chosen for the bridge. The rationale for this choice was that it did not detract the aesthetic exterior of Viaduc d’Austerlitz, further downstream; and that it discreetly preserved the view of the river.
The bridge has a single steel deck measuring 270 m long and 35 m wide, and the shape of which resembles an aircraft wing. It is supported by two concrete piers. Linking each pier to the deck are two conical steel frames shaped like upside-down tents.
The bridge roadway (not including footpaths and cycle lanes) measures 18 m in width and allows four lanes of northeast-bound traffic from the Left Bank to the Right Bank. Two cycle lanes to the upstream side of the bridge and two footpaths, one on each side of it, permit unmotorized traffic to cross.
The Ferrari F355 is a sports car built by Ferrari from May 1994 to 1999. It is an evolution of the Ferrari 348 and was replaced by the Ferrari 360. It is a mid-engined, rear wheel drive V8-powered 2-seat coupe. One major difference between the V8 in the 348 and that in the F355, apart from the displacement increase from 3.4 to 3.5 L, is that the F355 features a 5-valve per cylinder head and that it was considerably more powerful, producing 380 PS (279 kW; 375 hp). The F355 is more common than other Ferraris with 11,273 units produced.
At launch, two models were available: the coupe Berlinetta, and the targa topped GTS. The Spider (convertible) version was introduced in 1995. In 1997 the Formula One style paddle gear shift electrohydraulic manual transmission was introduced with the Ferrari 355 F1(note the dropping of the F before the 355) adding £6,000 to the dealer asking price.
The nomenclature does not follow the formula from the previous decades, ie. engine capacity + cylinder number (eg. 246 = 2.4 litres + 6 cyl, 308 = 3.0 litres + 8 cyl, and same for the 328, 348, 512 etc). This time, Ferrari used engine capacity plus number of valves per cylinder, as they were proud to boast about this technological advancement, ie 355 = 3.5 litres engine capacity and 5 valves per cylinder.
Source : wikipedia.org