The arc stands in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, (also known as the Place de l'Étoile), at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. Officially, it is the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, as the smaller Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel exists nearby. 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 monument was designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1806, and its iconographic program pitted heroically nude French youths against bearded Germanic warriors in chain mail.