History of L'Arc de Triomphe: Surrounded by a swirling mass of Peugeots and Renaults, the Arc de Triomphe stands at the convergence of twelve Parisian avenues - a truly world-class intersection. It occupies a place of honor at the head of the famed Champs Élysées Boulevard, at Place Charles de Gaulle, atop the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The idea of building a monument at this important crossroads had been discussed for many years. In fact, a prior suggestion in 1758 had called for a statue of Louis XV atop a giant elephant, complete with a water-spewing trunk.
Finally, in 1806, the Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon to commemorate his military successes. The original architect was Jean-Francois-Thérèse Chalgrin but, tragically, his life came to completion before the Arc did. The structure was finished in 1835 by Jean-Armand Raymond. Detailed decorations on its surface represent Napoleon's many triumphs. The overall design was based on the Arch of Constantine in Rome, although it is interesting to note that, at 164 feet high, the diminutive emperor's monument wound up being considerably larger.